Equity, Civil Rights, Title IX Office host ‘Strong Foundations’ art event

Attendees of the Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office art event, "Strong Foundations," had the opportunity to paint rocks in solidarity and awareness for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Olivia Havre | Photographer

By Shelby Peck | Staff Writer

The Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office hosted a collaborative art event, “Strong Foundations,” Thursday to raise awareness surrounding Sexual Assault Awareness Month and share messages of hope.

The event, which was held in Jones Commons between the Hankamer and Cashion buildings, provided students and faculty the opportunity to decorate rocks in ways meaningful to them. Representatives from the Equity Office were present as well to answer questions and interact with attendees

“We are a caring community … and we support one another in any way that we can. Tthis event comes from that, as just a way to spread hope and awareness that our office [and other offices on campus are here for our faculty, staff and students in any way that we can support you all,” Tracey Tevis, education and prevention specialist, said.

Tevis oversees faculty and student training on civil rights and Title IX policies as well as awareness and prevention. She said she wanted to plan an activity that students could “take to remind themselves and remind others.”

She also said the name of the event, Strong Foundations, came from the concept that students are strong and have a strong support system, a belief displayed through the symbolism of the painted rocks.

“It’s something small that everybody can keep,” Tevis said. “It’s just a reminder that you are strong, your friends are strong, the Baylor community is strong, and we support each other.”

Other events hosted by the Equity Office for Sexual Assault Awareness Month this year include an Equity Dr Pepper Hour, CycleBar night and Denim Day, an annual event where participants are encouraged to wear denim in solidarity with a victim of sexual assault who was told by a judge she was not assaulted because she was wearing tight jeans.

“April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month nationally, highlighting programming and resources for Baylor students, faculty and staff that are special to the month, and of course, resources ongoing throughout the year,” Derek Smith, assistant director of research communication, said.

On April 7, Tevis was featured on the Baylor Connections podcast, a “conversation series with the people shaping our future.” While sexual assault and misconduct specifically at universities is often seen in the news, Tevis reminded the audience sexual assault impacts individuals of many ages and backgrounds.

“Oftentimes you only hear about the women, but these things are also happening to our counterparts … in the United States alone, someone experiences sexual violence every 73 seconds,” Tevis said. “If we think about this, we are all in some form or fashion impacted by sexual violence and sexual conduct.”

Tevis directed those looking to learn more about sexual assault awareness to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the “nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.” The website provides statistics, survivor stories and a hotline for victims to call.

Austin junior Andrew Stevens said while he does not always see the Equity Office prominently on campus, he knows it is “accessible to all students.”

“Baylor does prioritize incidents like [awareness]. I’m sure there’s a lot of schools that would kind of swipe stuff like that under the rug,” Stevens said.

He also said he has seen some of the office’s events, including the “What Were You Wearing?” exhibit on Fountain Mall, an annual display of similar clothing to what victims of sexual violence were wearing at the time of their assault.

“I’m just glad they’re making an effort to bring that to life and have some justice for that because I definitely think there are some other big schools that would not go through something like that,” Stevens said.

Tevis said the Equity Office is constantly working to forward prevention and awareness efforts, taking a “village.” She encourages any student needing support or with questions to visit the Equity Office website or follow their Instagram @bu_equity.

“It’s important to know that if we cause harm or if we say something inappropriate or in any situation, we need to take ownership of it and we need to learn the skills and techniques to make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” Tevis said. “It’s important that we’re active listeners.”