By Anh Ta
This Sept. marks the official launch of the long-awaited Sexual Harassment and Assault Resources and Education application, or SHARE app. The SHARE app aims to reach out and raise awareness in the Lawrence community about the issue, as well as to keep helpful information and important contacts at the fingertips of any Lawrentian in need.
The SHARE app includes contact information for the campus security, educational materials, and safety and medical resources for anyone seeking help. Besides important phone numbers that users can dial within the app, the app also contains information on Lawrence’s policies and procedures; local and student organizations; and options to report, just to name a few.
The project was spearheaded by Counselor in Residency Andy Gunther-Pal and Associate Dean of Students for Health and Wellness Scott Radtke as part of a larger effort to address concerns about sexual misconduct at Lawrence.
In February of 2015, Gunther-Pal came across a similar concept at Amherst College and thought it would be “a great tool for students to access information in case of sexual assault or sexual misconduct.” She brought it up to Radtke and enlisted the help of the Office of Student Affairs and Information Technology. Over the summer, the app was tested by a student focus group of 15 which gave constructive feedback for further development.
Though the app has been launched, the project is not over. The student focus group made many suggestions, such as how to make it more user-friendly, add calling functions and include a GPS locating system. However, as Radtke noted, “[We] will always be in the process of fine-tuning it.”
In an attempt to reach out to every Lawrentian in need, Radtke mentioned that they intend to expand it to Bjorklunden, as well as the satellite campus at the London Centre.
“We want to continue to identify resources in the community,” said Radtke. “For example, we began to think about where the students might be. If a sexual assault happens in Bjorklunden for instance, we want to identify resources in Door County. If something happens at the London Centre, we want to find local resources there as well.”
According to Radtke, members of the Student Alliance Against Sexual Harassment and Assault (SAASHA) are also helping with further testing and feedback, as well as spreading word of the app to as many Lawrentians as possible.
The application is a timely addition to Lawrence’s existing resources and procedures of handling sexual misconduct and reaching out to the community. It also responded to one of the most heated debates on campus last year about the need to improve the school administration’s policies and procedures to ensure a safe space for all students. In a bigger context, the SHARE app fits neatly into a campus-wide atmosphere of change; besides SAASHA, other groups such as Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault (MARS) are opening up new discussions and promoting a deeper understanding of sexual misconduct-related issues.
In light of this ongoing conversation that has already been started, a participant of the student focus group, senior Amaan Khan, stressed the importance of maintaining the momentum and communication about the app to the whole community.
“[We] definitely need more communication and dissemination of information about [the app],” said Khan. “People need to know about it and its necessity. One thing that came up during the focus group was how to let people know and encourage them to download it.”
Khan noted that the effort so far has been far-reaching: the student leaders on campus such as Resident Life Advisors (RLAs), Welcome Week leaders and others have been spreading the words to the new freshman class. Khan believed more could be done to reach out to upperclassmen, by presenting the app before classes and club meetings, “making it in person” to really create an impact.
The application’s developers, Gunther-Pal and Radtke, also recognized the need for more communication. They are planning for more presence on campus through posters, tabling and word of mouth, as a continual effort to remind students of this resource they have at their fingertips.