Michelle Rose, administrative assistant to the associate dean of student care and services, said she hoped 30 or 40 students would attend the Sexual Assault Awareness event on April 3. When almost all of the 100 chairs were filled, she and her colleagues were elated. This interest is a testament to the increased desire of students to get involved with sexual assault awareness at Wheaton.
On a fall sexual assault training survey, 319 students indicated that they were interested in becoming more involved in raising awareness. According to Rose, others have been impressed by the increased interest Wheaton students show. Dr. Sally Schwer Canning, licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at Wheaton College Graduate School, also expressed her gratefulness: “I’m really glad we have a community of people at Wheaton College that are committed to a climate of being able to talk about these things.” Canning was the main speaker at the event held in the Phelps Room.
The event sought to raise awareness about the threat of sexual assault on Wheaton’s campus during the month of April, which is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Representatives from Student Development as well as Title IX Coordinators decided that a follow-up to the mandatory Sexual Assault training each fall would be beneficial for the campus. Several students helped plan the event and collaborated with Bon Appetit to feature themed desserts at dinner on Monday evening, such a bright red cake that read “Don’t Ignore the Red Flags.”
Junior Chloe Burris was one of 24 students who helped with the event planning and advertising. She also lead a group of students to plant red flags around campus. Burris, who serves as a Resident Advisor in Smith-Traber, expressed her desire to support those affected by sexual assault or harassment.
“I attended because I think it is important to begin — for some— and continue — for others — conversation about this on our campus,” she said. “My hope is that our Wheaton community becomes a safer place for all people and that those whose stories have been silenced will find the courage to share them.”
At the conclusion of Canning’s presentation, students split themselves into four groups and dispatched to various locations across campus to plant 400 red flags which serve as “reminders of what we have learned tonight, and to raise awareness for other Wheaton students,” according to Canning.
Wheaton has several dedicated resources for students in need of information or support regarding sexual assault. Title IX Coordinators are dedicated to implementing and monitoring Title IX compliance on campus. Others include Dean of Student Care and Graduate Student Life Allison Ash, Public Safety, an anonymous report service via EthicsPoint, Student Health Services and the Wheaton College Counseling Center. For more information, visit the Sexual Misconduct Response and Prevention site at wheaton.edu.