Phoebe Suy | Staff Writer
On the first day of the fall semester, one of the most important lessons wasn’t taught in the classroom. It was shared on stage in the Ferrell Center as freshmen and transfer students gathered together for the “It’s On Us” new student event Monday evening.
“It’s On Us” is a national movement to end sexual assault. The movement focuses on “creating a culture of consent, bystander intervention and survivor support,” according to their website. The campaign now works with 95 partners and students from over 500 campuses.
Before attending the “It’s On Us” event, Ashburn, Va. freshman Nicole Ioli said she was barely familiar with Title IX.
“Before I went in, I was like, well, I’m never gonna hurt anybody so there’s no reason I should be here,” Ioli said. “But after I went through it, I realized that you can stop [interpersonal violence] through other ways other than just finding the person who’s hurting others. You can be the person who stops [someone].”
“It’s On Us” focused on 3 methods of intervention in instances of interpersonal violence: direct, distract and delegate.
The event slideshows defined the terms as follows:
Direct – Do something yourself to address the situation.
Distract – Think of a distraction that will diffuse the situation or provide an opportunity for someone to get away.
Delegate – Ask someone to help out, such as a friend, family member, faculty or staff, CL or police.
Students from the Department of Theatre Arts depicted how each of the methods might play out in reality through various scenes and skits.
Title IX Coordinator Kristan Tucker said that one of the goals of the event was to help students understand what resources are available to them through Baylor’s Title IX office and other on-campus entities.
Some of the many resources available to students include Baylor University Police Department, Baylor University Counseling Center and University Chaplain Burt Burleson. The latter two are on-campus confidential resources.
Baylor University Counseling Center stayed open after the event until 10 p.m.
As a private Christian university, some students may hold reservations when it comes to reporting instances of interpersonal violence or sexual assault. If pre-marital sex or underage drinking are a part of a situation, students should know that Baylor’s Title IX office has an amnesty policy.
Tucker said this Baylor policy provides amnesty to personal consumption of alcohol or drug usage as well as in regards to our sexual conduct policy when it is in context of a behavior associated with any Title IX prohibited conduct.
“While we are not condoning these behaviors, each individual is going to make the decisions that they’re going to make,” Tucker said. “We want them to have the education in order to try and make the best decision for them.”
In addition to ensuring each Baylor student understands the extent of their resources, the Title IX office also seeks to include diversity and inclusivity into their training programs and outreach efforts.
“We, in our office, can offer support even if it is a female having an issue with a female, or male having an issue with a male, or male being potentially the complainant or victim and the female being the respondent or perpetrator,” Tucker said.
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), 1 in every 10 rape victims are male and 1 in 6 American women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
“We also try to clarify that we would still serve and provide that process and those resources regardless of what situation presents [itself],” Tucker said.
Longview sophomore Ariel Tchekane said she believed the “It’s On Us” event was a good way to have a serious conversation the student body needed to have.
“Something that I learned for sure is, it’s okay to step in,” Tchekane said. “You might not be directly involved in a situation and you might not feel comfortable, but it’s okay to just say something. Maybe not say something directly, but [at least] get someone involved.”
While intervening in an instance of interpersonal violence is not always comfortable to do, Fort Worth senior and “It’s On Us” co-host Christian Broussard said he believes there are strong ties between Title IX and Baylor’s Christian mission.
“God is the one to hold us accountable for [what] Scripture says, loving each other as ourselves,” Broussard said. “To me, that’s respecting a person, respecting a person’s dignity, respecting a person’s body, respecting a person’s wishes as to what they want to do with that body.”
Baylor’s position as a Christian university should be a reason to report and seek justice for interpersonal violence and sexual assault, not hide it.
“Really, just allowing the love you’re supposed to have for whomever it might be in any situation to take precedence over anything you might physically or emotionally want to do in that moment,” Broussard said.
In accordance with the Title IX office’s emphasis on being an active bystander, Training and Prevention Specialist Elizabeth Wellinghoff said that one of the initiatives coming soon to campus is Green Dot. Wellinghoff said Green Dot is training that specifically focuses on intervention. It builds upon the direct, delegate and distract concepts and empowers people to safely step forward and intervene in instances of interpersonal violence.
“We’ve got lots of different people across the campus involved in it so that it’s not just a Title IX [office] thing,” Wellinghoff said. “It’s everyone coming together and saying, ‘Hey, we really want Baylor to be a community of care.'”