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Koestner Speaks Out Against Sexual Assault

On March 11, Eastern hosted nationally acclaimed speaker Katie Koestner to speak to CCAS students about the realities of sexual assault on college campuses. All CCAS students not previously waived from attending the meeting gathered in the gymnasium for a 45-minute lecture where Koestner recounted her own experience with sexual assault during her time at college. After the forum, counselors were available to talk with students and a table with information on Delaware Valley Women Against Rape was set up for more information on the subject.

The forum was met with mixed emotions from students. “Some people had complaints, and there were also people saying that it was great,” says Bettie Ann Brigham, Vice President for Student Development.

What some students may not understand is that it is a federal mandate for colleges to address issues such as sexual harassment and alcohol use that are prevalent on college campuses. Even so, “Eastern has a good track record of doing this before it being mandated,” Brigham says. According to Brigham, up to three-times a year, campus clubs the likes of Refuge, Student Activities and Perspectives events have addressed the issue of sexual assault. Students have been expected to attend residence hall meetings addressing this issue in the beginning of the school year. However, “this is the first year that Eastern has had the funding for something like this,” Brigham says. “Students will remember that we made a serious effort to educate about sexual assault.”

Once funding of the event was approved, Eastern sought to find one of the best speakers on the subject to address the student body. “It was while looking for options for a speaker that we found that she lives locally,” Brigham says of Koestner. Koestner is a nationally renowned speaker on the subject of sexual assault and has been featured on the cover of TIME Magazine, as well as having appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, NBC Nightly News and Good Morning America.

Along with making visits to colleges around the country, Koestner formed the foundation Take Back the Night in 1999, which stands to “create safe communities and respectful relationships through awareness events and initiatives.” Through these events, the foundation’s end goal is to end sexual assault and violence by opening a conversation about the realities of abuse. Koestner has spoken at more than 400 Take Back the Night events throughout the United States.

Eastern now possesses the funding to have a sexual harassment forum each spring, along with a mandatory alcohol survey for students to take before coming to campus in the fall. Overall, Student Development feels that the forum was important for the student body to hear. As Brigham states, “Our goals were to get people talking, to come to us and open up the dialogue, along with satisfying the federal mandate as well as our own morals, and I’d say we did that.”

Sources: takebackthenight.org

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