Students ask administrators to get more creative with sexual wellness outreach

Shane McKeon, Campus Editor

The Campus Coalition on Sexual Violence met for its Spring Quarter meeting Tuesday, with its student advisory board asking the administrators present to experiment with new forms of outreach to students.

Weinberg junior Willow Pastard, who helped present the recommendations to the room of mostly administrators, suggested ways Northwestern could augment its communication with students.

Pastard drew on examples from other schools, such as the University of California schools’ sexual wellness campaign, which printed its definition of consent on cardboard coffee sleeves for students. Pastard said outreach like this makes students more aware of what the coalition is working on.

“It’s about getting them interested in little ways,” Pastard said. “It gets them in the door. These are facts that will accumulate over time, start conversations and create a gradual culture change.”

The coalition, which meets quarterly, comprises staff, faculty, students and community members. Its members include the Center for Awareness, Response and Education staff; Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators; the University’s Title IX staff and various other University staff and student groups.

Another example of creative outreach Pastard pointed to was posting flyers and hand-outs about sexual wellness in bathroom stalls, something she said her sorority currently does. Even if they’re unorthodox, Pastard said administrators should embrace these sorts of techniques.

In addition, she said more subtle outreach would be useful at NU, where students don’t often make time to attend lengthy programming when it’s optional.

“We’re busy students,” Pastard said. “I’m not necessarily going to go to a Title IX class, even if I’m interested.”

Weinberg freshman Elise Wu, who also presented the student advisory board’s recommendations, showed a flowchart from Wesleyan University that guided a student through possible options when reporting a sexual assault. She suggested administrators post a similar flowchart in residence halls so students understand the full range of sexual wellness resources the University provides.

Pastard, who serves as Panhellenic Association’s vice president of community wellness, said a recent PHA forum reminded her of how important a topic sexual assault is on campus. The forum — organized after the Interfraternity Council was criticized for banners it created for Sexual Assault Awareness Month — had only about 15 students in attendance, Pastard said. But she added students are busy and not always able to make such events.

“Everyone in PHA does take sexual assault seriously,” Pastard told The Daily. “It’s hard to be a woman at Northwestern and not take this seriously.”

Earlier this month, IFC faced criticism for banners created for Sexual Assault Awareness Month after some students said the banners were in poor taste due to the prevalence of sexual violence in fraternities. In addition, in April, University Police received four reports of sexual assault in nine days.

The meeting also let the various groups present give updates on current projects and initiatives. Erin Clark, CARE’s assistant director, led the meeting and said her office plans to provide a training for staff members in June focused on stalking.

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