Sunday, May 19, 2024

Rebuilding safety awareness, resources

Students and faculty sit in the H.U.B. and discuss LGBTQ+ student’s physical safety.

 

By Philo Yunrui Wang

In a joint effort to prioritize student physical safety and empowerment, the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the University Police Department hosted a discussion centered around dating safety relationship red flags and situational awareness. The Tuesday, April 9 event also focused on advocacy and finding one’s voice within the LGBTQ+ community.

The discussion aimed to provide valuable insights and resources on how to improve campus safety and resource support systems. The LGBTQ+ committee recognized that college students may feel helpless when facing challenges like this.

University Police Investigator Jessica Facteau spoke at the event, explaining what happened on her side.

“When someone comes to the police and tells us, ‘I didn’t know where else to go,’ I know that it must be terrifying because somehow they made their way to the last place they would have ever found themselves,” Facteau said. “So I’m thankful for people for being here, because I think a lot of it is going to transition so people know where to go, feel seen and are heard.”

One focus of the discussion was the LGBTQ+ Resource Committee, which is tasked with overseeing the situation on campus to ensure no student falls through the cracks. The members of this committee would collaborate closely with students to identify potential issues and ensure that they receive the best and most adequate resources.

Lindsey Bradley, co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Resource Committee, talked about their job and the future of the committee.

“We are building the LGBTQ+ Resource Committee up and it’s very important for us to have the student principal. We always want to make sure that you’re safe talking about your authentic selves being here,” Bradley said.

Another important issue is how to increase students’ awareness of and access to campus resources. Some students in the discussion pointed out that despite receiving campus safety training, they still lack awareness of available resources.

“A lot of people have come to the UPD when they probably never would have before, they just didn’t really know where to go,” Facteau said. “So we heard a lot of different stories and feedback. It was an interesting time for us because people were coming to us, even the general public, faculty and staff. It helped us grow in the sense of this work.”

These reports raised the UP’s awareness of the problems on campus, Facteau said, but they could not handle everything.

To address this issue, committee leaders planned to strengthen students’ awareness of resources by providing more face-to-face training and workshops. They also plan to use digital content and online platforms to convey important information to students so they can access help and support whenever needed.

In addition to increasing resource awareness, the discussion also emphasized the importance of campus culture and community consciousness. Some students expressed feeling unsafe or discriminated against on campus, so they hope to see more educational and awareness-raising activities to promote inclusivity and understanding.

Committee leaders said they will strive to create an inclusive and supportive environment while ensuring everyone can freely express themselves on campus without fear of discrimination or attack.

“I remember when I was on campus, there were a lot of student-driven discussions about LGBTQ+ needs. We had a committee called RADIUS, which organized events for the queer community, giving voice to different identities and subgroups. COVID disrupted things, but each student’s input will drive our rebuilding efforts,” Facteau said.

The discussion was a call to action for attendees to utilize the resources and support networks available to them on campus, including counseling services, Title IX assistance and UP.

“Hearing from another student is going to be much more powerful and impactful. We can co-facilitate these workshops and discussions. This April is my first opportunity to create a calendar of events around sexual assault awareness and prevention,” Title IX Coordinator Kim Irland said. “We can do so much more and have an impact when we focus on prevention rather than reacting to harm that’s already happened.”

By fostering a culture of support and solidarity, committee leaders plan to work further with students’ endeavors to create a campus community where every individual feels valued, heard and empowered to thrive.

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