Sexual assault forum aims to prevent attacks

By Jordan Hearne

Students and faculty will have an opportunity to discuss unhealthy relationships, sexual assault and other issues at a forum at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Kayser Auditorium.

The event will be hosted by Student Life’s Sexual Assault Work Team and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

The forum will feature two speakers from the Baylor community who will share their personal experiences with unsafe relationships.

The Sexual Assault Work Team is a collaboration of Baylor and Waco organizations dedicated to outreach and the education of Baylor students and faculty on the subject of sexual assault.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. is a group composed of students devoted to community service in the Baylor area. The forum is a part of Delta Week, during which the sorority sponsors a different outreach event each day for seven days.

Lori Genous, director of Baylor’s Department of Wellness and facilitator for the Sexual Assault Work Team, said the goal of the forum is to provide education on campus about sexual assault and inform students of the available resources.

“There’s not a lot of discussion about this subject, and we want students to know what do if they find themselves in this situation,” Genous said.

Genous said the forum is meant to educate not only potential victims, but bystanders as well. She said bystanders can safely intervene during a dangerous situation if they know how to approach the problem, and proper training can give faculty and staff members the skills to assist victims that confide in them.

Natashia Doolittle is an educator and sexual violence prevention specialist at the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children, one of the Waco organizations involved in the Sexual Assault Work Team collaboration.

She said she believes there is definitely a need for college students to understand exactly what sexual assault is and how they can speak out.

“I’m hoping that something someone says will touch a person who had not felt comfortable asking questions before and that it will inspire them to get help,” Doolittle said.

New Orleans, La., junior Claire Dunlap, president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., said she wants people that have suffered from sexual assault to know who to contact through the information provided at this event. She also said she hopes that this event will prevent students and faculty from getting into a position that could lead to an attack.

“There are a lot of unhealthy relationships in the community, and I hope that this gets the word out there and educates people,” Dunlap said.

For Doolittle, this forum will hit close to home. Her friend, she said, was sexually assaulted while Doolittle was a sophomore in college.

“There was an incident with a friend, and luckily, I knew what to do and who to contact, but if I wasn’t educated about this, I wouldn’t have known what to do,” Doolittle said. “This forum will equip people with the tools and skills they might need.”