Story by Kirsten Fedorowicz, Editor-in-Chief
Photo Courtesy of Frankie Prina
On Nov. 5, 2018, AQ Believe hosted a sexual assault bystander training event.
The goal of the event was to train Aquinas students about what to do when they come across interactions between individuals that could turn into sexual assault or coercion.
“I decided to do a bystander event because everyone can be an help in preventing a sexual assault or harassment situation,” said Frankie Prina, president of AQ Believe. “I wanted to give myself and other students a tool to learn how to do that better.”
One of the goals of the event was to add nuance to the idea of acting as a bystander. The scenarios that were discussed by the participants were not clear-cut; they involved verbal harassment, stalking and arguing exes. Each table and every individual had different reactions and ideas about how to and whether they should handle each situation.
“I am particularly thrilled with the quality of the conversation we had,” Prina said.
At the beginning of the event, Dr. Penny Avery of the Communication department at Aquinas gave a presentation about the different components that can go into a person’s decision whether to act in a scenario or not. These components can include the individual’s relationship with the others, the worry of retaliation and fear of being socially inappropriate.
Dr. Avery was the perfect fit for the event, thanks to her previous experiences. “I knew about Dr Avery because she had been the facilitator for an AQ Believe panel last year during the week of action… When I reached out to her [for the panel], she proposed a workshop based on the Multiple Goals Model, which she had also used for her doctoral thesis about sexual assault at MSU, and we loved the idea,” Prina said.
Though Prina worked hard on advertising, only about fifteen people attended the event.
Prina isn’t giving up. “AQ Believe as a group and its events are important because, as long as sexual assault and harassment still happens on this campus, there has to be an effort to eradicate it. Education and awareness are the only ways to permanently change the views of those who still don’t recognize certain forms of sexual harassment or assault as what they are.”
AQ Believe is determined to make an impact. Right now, the club has plans for a self-defense class and programs about intersectionality, workplace harassment and factors that can influence an assault.
About the writer:
Kirsten Fedorowicz is a senior who is pursuing an English major with a writing emphasis and a Women’s Studies minor. She enjoys embroidering and social justice, particularly when the two are combined.