Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
Katie Schmitz Staff Writer
A variety of students gathered in the Banquet Hall on Wednesday to attend the First Year Forum “Speak Now: Sexual Assault at K.”
According to a description sent out by Zaide Pixley, dean of first years, the purpose of the forum was to “broaden the discussion of sexual assault to more explicitly welcome the perspective of all students.”
The event was largely organized by Colin Cepuran ’15, co-president of Sexual Health Awareness Group, and Andrea Johnson ’15, co-president of POWER.
“Sexual assault and rape culture involves every student on this campus, and the majority of us probably don’t feel welcome or valued at a discussion of sexual assault,” Cepurian said, explaining why he and Johnson felt the need to create the forum.
“The main thesis of Speak Now, then, was that all students are impacted by rape culture, and therefore every student’s perspective on the issue was vital,” Cepuran added.
In the forum, attendees were split into small groups. Members from the Counseling Center, Arcus Center, Sexual Safety and Support Alliance and the CIP Peer Advisor spread themselves out into each group. Groups discussed the meaning of consent in general society and the meaning of consent at Kalamazoo College specifically. Groups then brainstormed ways in which assault can be reduced, not only at K but also in society as a whole. Safety precautions to take in order to avoid sexual assault at K were also discussed.
Students were also strongly encouraged to speak up in the event of sexual abuse.
“I am frankly disgusted with how difficult reporting and prosecuting sexual assault is on this campus,” said Cepuran. “I personally believe that any steps taken to reduce the taboos around this subject would shake our campus out of it’s complacency.”
Although this was primarily a First Year Forum, students from all different years attended. Johnson felt very positive after the forum.
“I am happy with the outcome of the event considering it was a busy Wednesday night and a little over 35 students attended,” she said.
“I feel as though we had an open dialogue about sexual assault with the students who were there, but I hope to continue this conversation and open this up to more than just those 35, because this is important and needs to be discussed,” Johnson added.