Georgia Southern University Health Services and Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) recently founded the Prevention of Men’s Violence Against Women Champions Committee. The goal of the committee is to use social capital to reduce the stigma surrounding sexual violence and to prevent sexual assault on campus.
Comprised of 17 male university faculty and staff members from the Statesboro and Armstrong campuses, team members, known as champions, are charged with a mission to establish a sense of ownership of the issue and to provide sexual violence prevention tools as it pertains to their particular areas of influence.
“People are hesitant to talk about sexual violence, and in many instances, sexual assault still goes unreported because there’s such a stigma surrounding it,” said Ken Gassiot, Ph.D., associate vice president for student engagement and member of the committee. “Sexual violence is not just one person’s problem. The issue impacts our campuses and communities, and we as members of the Champions Committee are a loud voice to get in front of the most people, in the most effective way.”
Members of the committee were handpicked by Gemma Skuraton, DrPH, Health Services health promotion coordinator, and Lauren Patterson, Psy.D., co-chair of SART, with three qualifications in mind. They have to be recognizable members of the campus community, commit to being visible at SART-sponsored events and be able to articulate the team’s message in a relatable way to their constituents.
“For some, that means posting on social media, and for some, that means including the message in departmental emails and newsletters,” said Skuraton. “Committee members are encouraged to share our message of prevention in the way that best suits their primary audience.”
The committee will promote SART-affiliated campaigns throughout the year, such as the Clothesline Project and It’s On Us week. Members will attend two large-scale, sexual assault prevention events on campus, such as the Walk A Mile in Her Shoes march, an event designed to raise awareness about sexual violence by having men walk campus in red, high-heeled shoes.
“We are grateful that these men stepped forward to champion our message,” said Skuraton. “This committee will be a fundamental part of our efforts to erase sexual violence and the stigma associated with it.”
Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving nearly 26,500 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.