Sexual assault on college campuses is one of the major issues facing our generation today. Students at Lawrence may not recognize the severity of the issue because we so rarely see it pubicized on our own campus, but we must educate ourselves just as much as one would at another school.
“Students aren’t really aware of the facts. We think that we don’t have that problem because we don’t really see it as much, because it’s such a tiny school, but that’s not at all true,” said senior Steph Courtney.
Enter the Sexual Harassment and Assault Review Board (SHARB). The board consists of students, staff and faculty and serves as a guide in matters of sexual harassment or assault.
“The people on the board get some specific training on how to respond to situations involving sexual assault or harassment. We are primarily there to be a resource, should students have concerns, and to work on educational awareness programming,” said Scott Radtke, the education coordinator for SHARB. The board can also help victims get emergency medical assistance and decide what kind of legal action to take.
“Lawrence contracts with some attorneys that handle the process of investigating the complaint,” said Radtke. These attorneys can then advise the legal authority on how to discipline the perpetrator.
Staff and faculty work closely with the two student representatives—Courtney is one while senior Kelsey Priebe is the other. Students on the Board work to reach out to the general student population through specific programming. Courtney and Priebe also collaborate with the Student Programming Committee, which was formed this year by senior Liz Vidulich.
“One of the main points of the committee is to give SHARB a positive name so that people feel comfortable going to the SHARB board regarding reporting incidents,” she says.
Next term, SHARB will begin their Sexuality Series, which will consist of open events to create a comfortable environment for students to just talk.
“We were going call one event Sex and S’mores and have different questions on poster board on the walls so then people could just mingle and talk about things, because really we’re just trying to get a conversation going,” says Vidulich. For the review board, this is crucial. “What they [the review board] want more than anything is to know the most effective way to reach the students here.”
SHARB tries to avoid culminating an accusatory environment and, instead, focuses on fostering a positive one.
“We’re trying to do a lot of positive events, rather than being preachy or targeting groups in any way. In the past, specific groups, in particular fraternities and sports teams, have felt targeted by groups that are working to end sexual violence, but we don’t want to be like that at all,” said Vidulich.
Through programs like Step Up, led by Erin Buenzli, and Bystander Intervention, which focus on the ambiguity that can be involved in situations of sexual violence and can help students recognize when others are in an unsafe situation, SHARB is teaching students that anyone can help prevent sexual assault and harassment. For those interested in becoming a part of SHARB, contact Liz Vidulich at email@example.com