Greek Life promotes sexual harm prevention

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Molly Corcoran Sanders / Winonan

With growing concern about increasing numbers of sexual assaults occurring on college campuses, Sigma Tau Gamma President Nicholas Cota decided the fraternity needed to take action.

“Over the past year, there’s been an increase of sexual harm related instances. Additionally, we ended up seeing it here quite locally on our campus,” Cota said. “We had already planned on having someone come in and speak to our chapter, and then upon further discussion with our alumni and with the chapter as a whole, we decided to make it a campus initiative.”

The event, titled “The Ripple Effects of Sexual Harm,” will take place Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. in the Harriet Johnson Auditorium. Jane Straub, the victim assistant specialist at the Gunderson National Child Protection Training Center, will give the presentation.

Straub will give a 60-minute presentation. In addition, Winona State University’s Title IX Coordinator Lori Mikl will be giving a 10-minute presentation on the various resources available on campus and in the community.

After reaching out to the presidents of other Greek organizations, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Sigma Sigma joined in sponsoring the event. Greek Life is promoting the presentation, but the event is aimed towards all college students, staff and faculty on campus.

Straub also works for the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, which is a program within the Gunderson Health System in La Crosse. She typically speaks twice a week on an extensive list of different topics such as domestic violence, consent, healthy relationships, child abuse and trauma.

“This presentation is coming at a great time, there’s been a lot of conversations happening about sexual harm on this campus,” Cota said.

When deciding on a presenter to bring to campus, Jane Straub seemed to be an easy pick.

“[Straub] is a very good speaker. She speaks nationally and knows how to adapt her presentation style to her audience. When looking at speakers, that was my biggest fear, that our organization brings in a speaker who speaks monotone or presents as though they’re talking to a bunch of little kids. I wanted a presenter that’s going to talk to us as young adults,” Cota said.

According to Cota, [Straub] has been working in the violence prevention and intervention field for over 15 years. She has worked with adult victims of abuse, offenders and children of all ages.

“She is a huge advocate for victims and families in the immediate Twin Cities area. That goes even further with domestic abuse, sexual violence, stalking, trafficking, bullying and cyberbullying. Just a wide variety of topics,” Cota said.

Straub stated she always goes into her presentations with three goals.

“The first goal is to give people information that they haven’t heard. Second, especially when I talk about things related to abuse and violence, is knowing that there will be survivors [in the audience], so I always want survivors to know that what happened is not their fault, and there are resources out there and people on your team that will support you. Third, is this idea of people not realizing the impact of harm,” Straub said. “I want them to have this thought of ‘I never really realized how harmful that word may be’ or ‘how harmful that act may be.’ I always think of it as hopefully I’m out there kind of planting some seeds.”

Cota and Straub both have high hopes for the event.

“I hope people who attend will at least learn one new item, while also learning about the various resources in our immediate area,” Cota said.

In the end, if even only one person is positively affected, Straub said she will feel as though she has made an impact.

“There are going to be people that may really listen to what I say, and also people that may totally discount it,” Straub said. “It may become a dialogue that can certainly turn into something bigger after I just give my one presentation. Hopefully it will be something that continues to be talked about.”

By Molly Corcoran Sanders

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