Women at the College unite against sexual assault

The members of Lambda Theta Alpha sorority hosted a night of female empowerment on Monday, Nov. 13 with the program “Be Your Own Woman.” The event was exclusively for the College’s women and drew a large audience. Be Your Own Woman focused on sexual assault and what women can do to prevent it.

The evening’s facilitators were Colleen McDonald, sophomore music education major, and Emily Nardi, senior psychology and criminal justice major. They are both trained peer educators for the Office of Anti-Violence Initiatives.

McDonald and Nardi began the event by enlightening the audience with some quick facts: 95 percent of sexual abusers are men, and sexual assault is usually committed by an acquaintance of the victim. With all these facts it was easy for one to sit and ask, “What can women do?”

McDonald and Nardi led the audience through the first phase of the workshop called “Act like a lady, play by the rules.” The women in attendance listed the different things society says a girl must do in order to be lady-like and wrote them in a box on the board. Some of the examples included crossing your legs when sitting down, being polite and never burping in public.

During another phase of the workshop, the facilitators asked the audience to close their eyes and raise their hands when they heard a statement that applied to them. Some examples were “raise your hand if you (have ever not gone out) because you weren’t presentable” and “raise your hand if you kept your thoughts to yourself because it was easier to keep quiet.” Despite the silliness of some of the statements, this part of the evening was a favorite of the audience.

“The whole program in general was really enlightening and enforced what I learned in (my women’s and gender studies courses). It was able to enlighten other people who may not have known,” Stephanie Natera, junior women’s and gender studies and criminal justice major, said.

“People had to get warmed up to the situation but it was really good. I couldn’t have asked for better participation,” McDonald said.

“Everyone’s participation was really good, especially when you’re bringing up topics that might be a little uncomfortable for people to talk about,” Nardi added. “Everyone raised their hands and added their comments.”

At the end of the night, participants created a list of ways they could support and empower woman on a day to day basis and support the victims of sexual assault and stalking.

Participants wrote down their ideas and stuffed them into a tiny, colorful trinket box with handles.

“We worked together a group pf peer educators to kind of tweek the program. We went through the program ourselves and really adapted them to see how they would best fit the students here at the College,” Nardi said.