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Topic of W&L’s Annual Sexual Assault Summit is Peer Education and Bystander Intervention

Robert Franklin (AP Photo)
Robert Franklin (AP Photo)
News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954

Washington and Lee University will host its third annual Sexual Assault Summit on Friday and Saturday, March 27-28, in the John W. Elrod Commons on W&L's campus in Lexington, Va.

The summit provides a forum for students, professionals and administrators from a range of colleges to collaborate about efforts to address sexual misconduct with an emphasis on peer education. It is sponsored by Washington and Lee University and NASPA Region III (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education). The summit will include over 100 students and administrative representatives from 17 colleges and agencies.

The W&L student groups helping the sponsors with the logistics of the summit are One in Four, SPEAK, KEWL and The Moustache Society. Two members of One in Four, a student organization whose purpose is to prevent sexual misconduct by educating men, and to prepare men to support women who are victims of assault, also are presenting at the summit.

"We in One in Four feel that this is an issue that we need to tackle as a united community and not only provide services for survivors, but work towards better collaborative solutions for the prevention of sexual assault," said Greg Lennon, vice president of training in One in Four.

"We will be speaking on how sexual assault is not only a women's issue but also a men's issue, and how men can get involved and help prevent sexual assault. Once again we are excited about this great opportunity for collaboration and learning, and look forward to both the Sexual Assault Summit and Take Back the Night the preceding Thursday."

The topic of this year's Sexual Assault Summit is Peer Education and Bystander Intervention.

"Research has shown that peer to peer education is the most effective way to deliver messages about sexual assault," said Jan Kaufman, director of health promotion at Washington and Lee. "One in Four research shows this to be an effective means of educating men about the impact of sexual assault and how to support female friends who have been assaulted. A key piece in the peer to peer approach is bystander intervention - speaking up when one sees a situation developing that does not feel comfortable with."

The program will begin on Friday evening with student presentations and discussions. The opening session on Saturday will be given by Robert Franklin, male outreach coordinator for sexual violence prevention in the Virginia Department of Health. Franklin has worked on issues of sexual and intimate partner violence since the early 1990s.

Franklin has appeared on CNN's American Morning, CBS's Evening News and Voice of America discussing a statutory rape campaign in Virginia that targets men with the slogan "Isn't She a Little Young? Sex with a Minor, Don't Go There." Franklin was awarded the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's 2007 National Award for Outstanding Response to and Prevention of Sexual Violence.

The general session talk will be given by representatives from the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). The nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization, RAINN has helped more than one million people affected by sexual violence through the National Sexual Assault Hotline and Online Hotline.

"There will be two discussion-based interest sessions following the general session and then another after the luncheon keynote speech," said Kaufman. "The interest sessions focus on sexual misconduct prevention with specific emphasis on working with first year students, men and athletes. These sessions will be given by students and faculty/staff from various colleges and universities."

The luncheon keynote speech will be given by University of Mary Washington Professor Christopher Kilmartin, an internationally-recognized expert on gender and violence prevention. In addition to psychology professor, Kilmartin is an author, stand-up comedian, actor, playwright, consultant and professional psychologist.

Kilmartin participated as a consultant in the U. S. Department of Education's 2001 Meeting on Violence Prevention in Higher Education. He is the author of Men's Violence Against Women: Theory, Research, and Activism (co-authored by Julie Allison, Ph.D., Erlbaum, 2007); The Masculine Self (3rd edition, Sloan, 2007); and Sexual Assault in Context: Teaching College Men about Gender (2005, Erlbaum) - a manual based on his consultation experiences.

The day will conclude with a closing session to be given by Dr. Dorothy Edwards, the founding director of the University of Kentucky's Violence and Prevention center, the designated unit on the UK campus to address power-based personal violence (including sexual violence, partner violence and stalking).

In the past 10 years, Edwards has emerged as a passionate voice committed to the right of every person to live free from violence and fear of violence. To that end, she provides education, training and consultation to universities, non-profits, community and state organizations around the country on community mobilization, strategic planning and program development in the area of violence prevention.

"This year's summit will be an excellent opportunity for students, faculty and staff to collaborate with other schools about sexual assault prevention," said Dr. Jennifer M. Sayre, Washington and Lee University counselor. "The emphasis on bystander behavior and peer education will be particularly relevant to the efforts already in place on our campus.

"Additionally, the schedule is full of very strong programs and we have two nationally prominent speakers. I am most excited about the breath of participation--we already have registrants and presenters from 16 different colleges and universities across the county. As in past years, I expect the Summit will be an invigorating opportunity for collaboration and the development of new ideas for our work to prevent sexual violence."

KEWL will sponsor Love Your Body week that same week, and as a part of Love Your Body Week will be promoting Take Back the Night on Thursday before the summit.

Other days during that week will be devoted to different women's interest topics, starting with a media-awareness day on Monday. There also will be a sexual health day, an "indulgence" day and various activities to promote solidarity and empowerment for women on campus. The main goal is to bring awareness to problems specific to W&L, including sexual assault and eating disorders. On Wednesday, Drs. David and Leslie Novack will be giving a presentation regarding problems with women's health and body image at W&L. Dr. David Novack is the head of the sociology department at W&L and Dr. Leslie Novack is a developmental psychologist at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va.

SPEAK, W&L's women's organization aimed at decreasing and preventing sexual misconduct and assault on campus through outreach and education, will be sponsoring the national Take Back the Night Rally in conjunction with the summit. The rally, which will be held on Thursday, March 26, at 7 p.m. in the Cohen Amphitheater adjacent to the W&L Commons, is meant to raise awareness about sexual assault at W&L and support survivors of assault on W&L's campus. SPEAK will also distribute pink rubber bracelets bearing the slogan "Snap! Women Supporting Women" to the campus community. These bracelets will be available in the sorority houses and at the security desk and in the living room of the Elrod Commons.

"The events preceding the Sexual Assault Summit, particularly the Take Back the Night Rally, are crucial components of Washington and Lee's fight against sexual assault on our campus," said Taylar Hart, president of SPEAK. "It is imperative to the success of such initiatives that students, faculty and staff attend the events and show that our community will not tolerate acts which violate the system of honor upon which our University was built."