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New office prepares Sexual Assault Awareness month

Title IX coordinators face an important task as Biola participates in a national initiative.  |  Chak Hee Lo / THE CHIMES

 

As the #MeToo and It’s On Us movements give momentum to educational efforts, Biola will commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness month through its new Title IX office starting on April 9.

NEW YEAR, NEW OFFICE

While the university has previously held the initiative, this instance will see the Title IX office largely spearheading the effort. Biola created its Title IX office last May to better address issues of sexual discrimination, including sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence, in accordance with federal guidelines. One of their goals includes promoting education of the issue through events such as Sexual Assault Awareness month.

“We really just want students to know... that they’re loved and cared for, to know that they’re being listened to. Because I think a lot of time when students are going through different issues like this, or if they have a close friend that has been, and they don’t really know how to respond, I think it’s important to know the school is here for you,” said Madison Berube, Title IX intern and junior public relations major.

Situated between the week of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and finals week, the awareness initiative will begin with a chapel led by President Barry Corey on April 9. Title IX coordinator Dawn White is also partnering with many other departments across campus.

For instance, Campus Safety will conduct Rape and Aggression Defense System training in Horton and Sigma Halls to teach women how to defend themselves, and GRIT will publish blog posts on the issue. The month will also see the return of pinwheels on Metzger Lawn, which illustrates the likelihood of an undergraduate student being assaulted during their four years at Biola.

“I think that the opportunity to bring awareness into something that’s so significant and... so destructive and that, I think, is often overlooked or unexpected or misunderstood, or all of the above, that I get to be a part of figuring out our way through that as a university, so that it isn’t a taboo thing, that it isn’t something that we assume that we’re immune from,” White said.

INNOVATION IN EDUCATION

Finding methods of addressing sexual assault has posed a challenge, particularly considering the Title IX office remains in its first year, according to White. Last year, Biola did not hold a large-scale commemoration of Sexual Assault Awareness month, but White seeks to find ways to address the issue year-round.

Junior accounting major Jordan Pearson believes the Title IX office initiative should have generated more awareness about the initiative’s events before it starts.

“I feel like I’d like to see more advertisement of it and exposure of it on campus, just because I don’t really know that it’s happening or that it’s there until I walk by a table or a booth that’s popped up and that’s usually in passing,” Pearson said. “I don’t have time to stop and look at what’s going on and read up on stories.”

During the events, students will have the opportunity to fill out a survey evaluating how Biola provides education concerning sexual assault.

“I hope that students get involved. In our society it’s been such a big topic lately with the #MeToo campaign and a lot of things of that nature, and it’s so important because you don’t know who you’re talking to… So it’s important to just be careful when you’re talking about these things,” Berube said. “I hope that Biola takes this a little bit more seriously and knows that whatever they’re saying, they’re saying it in love and to be a good friend.”

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