Chatham Launches Sexual Assault Prevention Advisory Group

Author: Allison Albitz

Chatham University is excitedly launching the Sexual Assault Prevention

Advisory Group this month. The coordinator, Heather Black, Assistant Dean of

Student, created the group after hearing feedback from students. “Basically, it came

from doing so many educational sessions and we were hearing from students that

they wanted to be involved, weren’t quite sure how to bring that conversation to the

table, so I started just taking down names.”

Black’s hope for the group is that it will be by students, for students. “I’m

going to charge them with coming up with a name, charge them with do we want to

be more or a peer educator group, do we want to be something else? What does this

grow into? How often do we meet? What are our common goals?”

Though the group is going to be completely student-driven, Black has already

begun brainstorming some of her goals for the group. “My goal is to have students

more engaged in our programming and more engaged in terms of helping us with

our bystander intervention and helping to gain better understanding of the

university policies and procedures, and to be a part or the process.”

The first order of business? Planning Sexual Assault Prevention and

Awareness Month. Black says that throughout the month of April, the advisory

group will be working with the Feminist Coalition, the Chatham Activities Board,

and various other campus organizations to plan programming throughout the

month. One of these events will be Take Back the Night, an annual rally in which

students and community members gather to share stories and light candles in honor

of victims of sexual assault and violence.

Though campus sexual assault is one aspect of Title XI, policies are not going

to be the main focus of the group, Black explains. “Policies tend to be about how we

respond to a situation, what we are required to do, and so, for me, this group is more

about how do we take a more proactive approach.”

Mary Utter, Assistant Dean of Students, and Sean Coleman, the university’s

Title XI coordinator will also be facilitating the group. All meetings will be open to

the public, with the first being on February 22 at 12 p.m. in the Carriage House

Conference Room.

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