November 03, 2010

Hamline empowers students & employees to take active role in ending sexual violence

 

Hamline University is taking a stance against sexual violence through the Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force—a new campus group charged with the creation and coordination of policies, procedures, and programming for the prevention of and response to sexually violent acts. Fifteen students are involved with the program, as well as faculty and staff members from the women’s studies and theatre departments and the offices of student affairs, health services, orientation and first-year programs, safety and security, international student programs, multicultural and international student affairs, athletics, and residential life.

The task force was not created in response to any incident on Hamline’s campus. Rather, it is a forward-thinking preventative measure to help educate the university community about the prevalence of sexual violence in society and the responsibility of everyone to stop it.

“We want to educate ourselves on current trends and best practices regarding sexual violence prevention on college campuses,” says Hamline counselor and task force member, Lindsey Teigland. “Hamline is moving away from a victim-focused response to a culture change that relies on all community members to truly be preventative and take responsibility.”

The group’s kick-off program, “Real Men Don’t Rape,” featured testimonials from Hamline men on the importance of ending sexual violence. Seventeen men from various areas of campus participated in the event, giving short testimonials on why ending sexual violence is important to them, sharing suggestions about how to stop it, discussing issues of masculinity and stereotypes, and talking about important women in their lives who inspire or motivate them to care about these issues.

Student Rachel Johnson, task force member and co-facilitator of VOICE, Hamline’s student-led sexual assault support group, created the event.

“I wanted the audience to hear from many different male voices,” Johnson said. “My hope is that people could connect with someone on the panel."

Task force member Matt Petersen designed t-shirts to promote the event and the message of responsibility.

“Society defines what it means to be a ‘real man,’ and that usually involves a type of masculinity that is degrading to women,” Petersen said. “I want the shirts to represent a type of masculinity that prevents violence against women.”

The task force believes programs like this are critical to help all community members understand the roles they can play in putting an end to sexual violence. Future projects include campus poster campaigns, recognizing Sexual Violence Prevention Awareness Week in April, and a collaboration with VOICE to host a “Friends and Family Night” for allies of sexual assault survivors. VOICE, which has expanded to other Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities schools, is also planning a “Self-defense Blow-Out” event in the spring.

For more information about the Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force and related events on campus, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 651-523-2421 or via email at dos@hamline.edu.