By Jane Fitzpatrick, Contributing Writer
Two campuswide Open Listening Sessions were held on Tuesday, May 7 and Wednesday, May 8 in response to concerns about sexual assault on campus. Both sessions had low attendance, however they intended to provide students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to probe questions surrounding sexual assault, voice their opinions on the subject, and provide feedback to the Office of Violence Prevention.
Leading the conversations were Title IX Director Amanda Blaugher and Director of the Women’s Center and Violence Protection Coordinator Valentina Cucuzza.
Blaugher told The Gettysburgian prior to the sessions that the feedback sessions were extremely important, “It’s very easy for people to get into a flow of things and not realize ‘we could be doing this or that.’”
Blaugher and Cucuzza had specific goals in mind for the listening sessions: “We want to hear from members of the campus community about where we need to do better, how we can reach the community about the efforts from The Office of Violence Prevention, and what our campus community wants to see moving forward. We are committed to moving forward together to address concerns about campus culture and fostering a community of respect where all feel safe.”
To start the conversations, these questions were presented via a slideshow made by Blaugher and Cucuzza:
- “Where does the campus need to do better when it comes to addressing sexual assault on campus?”
- “How can we reach the campus community about efforts from the Office of Violence Prevention and the Women’s Center?”
- “What do you want to see moving forward?”
While Blaugher and Cucuzza considered the attendance at the sessions low in comparison to the level of concern they observed on campus, they considered both sessions “successful” in gathering information from both students and faculty members present. The two asked the audience, in response to the turnout, how they could get more involvement; a student replied: “more listening sessions like this one.”
One of the recommendations offered at the meeting included making changes to the Gettysburg College website, namely updating the Sexual Misconduct Resources page to be more informative and personable.
Those present also raised concerns over the effectiveness of the required summer online sexual misconduct courses for students. One of the attendees suggested that the online course be supplemented with in-person education sessions.
Further recommendations spread to possible improvements to the first-year orientation program. Some female students recommended that male students be more involved in sexual misconduct awareness and prevention. They claimed that they heard some male students say that “men don’t get sexually assaulted/raped;” thus the female students voiced that they wish to quell this fallacy.
More comments arose during the sessions regarding the idea of using female empowerment and wellness as tools to encourage more dialogue on the topic of sexual conduct. Attendees cited the introduction of programs and activities within Greek life and clubs on campus as a start to addressing the issue of sexual assault.
Among the future recommendations for addressing sexual assault was the idea to hold more listening sessions and interactive events that allow the campus community to probe dialogue on the subject.
In addition to the listening sessions, the Office of Violence Protection and the Women’s Center invite students and faculty to send feedback via email to ViolencePrevention@gettysburg.edu.