New sexual assault education and prevention programming at AQ

Story by Mackenzie Murphy, Opinion Editor
Image courtesy of Penn State News

Zoë Gipson will serve as Campus Safety’s new Program Coordinator, working to bring new sexual assault education and prevention programming to Aquinas this semester.
Last November, Aquinas was rewarded $4,637 by The Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program, a state-lead initiative that provided funding for sexual assault prevention programming at Michigan colleges and universities. Aquinas was one of 22 colleges in Michigan to be awarded through the program.

“My job description is to fulfill the grant,” said Gipson. She serves a part of an advisory board of faculty and staff that aim to bring new prevention programs to the Aquinas community.

Two projects in the works—Walk a Mile in Her Shoes and bystander training—will happen on campus by the end of this semester. Both programs were suggested by the state initiative as programs suitable for college communities.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is a march in which men and other advocates walk while wearing high-heels or other shoes. Participants are encouraged to “walk the walk” and then “talk the talk” by having a discussion revolving around issues of sexual violence. Aquinas’s version of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes will happen Tuesday, February 23 at 6 p.m. in Kretschmer Recital Hall.

The logistics for bystander training have yet to be put in place. Gipson said that the training will help inform students of what to say and do if they are in situations where others are at risk for sexual assault.

“One of the main concerns the board has is that Aquinas College doesn’t do anything really other than orientation, and that’s the beginning of freshman year. After that, there is some passive programming and some very limited-scope programming.” Gipson hopes that the grant will help set future standards for the college and that they will continue to host prevention and educational programming on campus.

“I think the thing is just being able to have this conversation, and saying ‘what is consent?’ and how to protect that and how to protect other people. Just talking about healthy relationships and what that should look like is what this comes down to for a school like Aquinas.”

*A previous version of this story stated that Walk a Mile in Her Shoes would occur at 4:30 p.m. from the AMC to Wege.

About the Writer…

Mackenzie Murphy
is a sophomore at Aquinas where she is the Opinion Editor for The Saint. She is also a freelance writer and high school debate coach. In her spare time, Mackenzie enjoys reading and geeking out over David Foster Wallace. Follow her on Twitter at @MurphyKenzio

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