Sexual assault is an ongoing issue on many college campuses. Kirkwood Community College recently hosted a sexual assault awareness panel to educate both students and faculty on the topic.
Sexual assault encompasses not only assault itself but many complex processes which a victim, friend or bystander may find daunting, and the Oct. 6 sexual assault panel aimed to educate both faculty and students through an open conversation about an otherwise closed and shamed topic.
The event started with brief introductions from each panel member, where they discussed their occupation and experience regarding the topic.
Included in the panel were Student Resource Officer Landon Einck; Sexual Assault Investigators from the Cedar Rapids Police Department Stacy Baye, Tracy Johnson and Emily Shimp; Associate Vice President Melissa Payne; and a NISSA representative Eiman Elmansori. All members had extensive experience and gave a diverse perspective on sexual assault.
Numerous questions were asked of the panel which provoked engaging conversations with students and panel members. Questions ranged from the process of filing a report, the roles of a bystander and how students can personally support a sexual assault victim.
The last topic regarding frequently asked questions panelists have heard provoked a wide variety of important conversations.
Baye said many victims ask, “What happens now?” She answered the question by explaining after an initial report a thorough investigation will occur.
An initial report, according to Baye, is step one to a month-long investigation ensuring every detail is taken into consideration.
Einck said many victims ask the question, “How will you keep me safe?” He said he has escorted students to class, walked students to their vehicles and increased patrols to help protect the students. By giving a plethora of examples, Einck ensured he would protect and support students who may find themselves in a dangerous situation. The panelists gave students numerous resources for both help and further education.
Student Abi Gerdes said attending the panel improved her knowledge of sexual assault. “I have a better understanding of the process of how you file a report and what the process is like after filing the report,” she said.
Panels such as this provide an opportunity for conversations between professionals, faculty and students about difficult, but prominent issues.
For more information or to receive support, call the domestic violence and sexual assault crisis and support line at 319-363-2093 or 800-208-0388. Additionally, Kirkwood provides counseling at 3034 Iowa Hall. Counseling Services can be reached by calling 319-398-5540. Call 911 for emergency assistance.