Just as students return to class for the new school year, Westminster College will host a second annual conference about assaults on college campuses entitled “Not Alone: A Symposium Confronting Sexual Assault and Dating/Domestic Violence on College Campuses” on September 18 and 19, 2015.
This year’s symposium will include two keynote speakers: michael munson, executive director of FORGE and Liz Seccuro, author of Crash Into Me: A Survivor’s Search for Justice. The symposium will also host a free screening of the Sundance documentary The Hunting Ground.
In 2014, Westminster held the first symposium of its kind in Utah to educate colleges and universities about sexual violence. The event hosted students, faculty and staff from universities across the state to confront the nationwide problem of sexual violence on college campuses. Nearly 300 participated, including law enforcement, community leaders and advocates. This year’s symposium will address how institutions of higher education should work to prevent and respond to instances of sexual violence, dating and domestic violence and stalking. Students, faculty, administrators and community leaders will also explore topics of effective advocacy and our collective responsibility for dismantling rape culture.
“I am so proud of Westminster’s commitment to this important topic,” said Melissa Flores, Westminster’s general counsel and chair of the symposium planning committee. “The momentum around last year’s symposium and the partnerships we have built with the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA), the Utah Department of Health, Planned Parenthood, the Rape Recovery Center, and colleges and universities such as Salt Lake Community College, Utah Valley University, the University of Utah and Weber State has really allowed us to build a strong symposium schedule.”
On October 20, 2014, the United States Department of Education published the final regulations for the Violence Against Women Act (VOWA) amendments to the Clery Act. The regulations expand rights afforded to campus survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Westminster is dedicated to educating the campus community about their rights under and obligations to uphold VOWA, Clery and Title IX – the federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex against any person in education programs that receive federal funding.
Over the past year, Westminster has rolled out an extensive Title IX campaign to educate the campus community that Title IX covers many things, including access to technology, athletics, employment, harassment and sexual assault. The college drew upon the White Houses’ new resources at NotAlone.gov to develop new Title IX initiatives across campus.
“I want people to know they have a resource here, so if something doesn’t feel right, or they aren’t sure; come by my office, call me, ask me ‘How does this work?’” added Flores. “It’s only when we start having these conversations that we’re able to help students and reduce the number of assaults.”
michael munson, executive director FORGE
September 18 at 10:45 a.m.in the Vieve Gore Concert Hall, Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory
munson (who intentionally uses all lowercase to spell his name) is the co-founder of FORGE, an organization focused on improving the lives of transgender individuals by building stronger connections, providing resources and empowering growth through knowledge. His educational background is in psychology, with an emphasis in trauma. munson’s work on violence against transgender and gender non-conforming individuals is groundbreaking, stressing the intersectionality between complex components of identity, experience and societal constructs that both spur violence, as well as catalyze healing for individuals and communities. munson’s address is entitled “Complex Communities, Simple Solutions: Making a difference for transgender sexual violence survivors,” which will focus on building stronger relationships between sexual assault service providers and transgender survivors.”
Liz Seccuro, author of Crash Into Me: A Survivor’s Search for Justice
September 19 at noon in the Behnken Field House
Seccuro is a victim’s rights advocate and spends time lobbying for important legislation to help support sexual assault victims in the United States. Seccuro also founded Sisters Together Assisting Rape Survivors (STARS) to help fund programs assisting rape victims and their families who are seeking justice and looking to heal. In her first memoir, Crash Into Me: A Survivor’s Search for Justice,she shares the horror of being raped her freshman year at the University of Virginia and how her life was altered forever. Her keynote address is entitled “What Everyone Needs to Know: How the Internet & ‘Bro’ Culture Have Impacted Campus Violence & Sexual Assault.”