Hesston College takes steps to create safer community

by Emily Kauffman – Horizon Features Editor

“Difficult to watch,” “emotionally unsettling” and “reflection of reality” are all descriptions of the famous pop star Lady Gaga’s newest video, “Till It Happens To You.” Depicted in the video are three different sexual assault survivors that are raped on a college campus. One woman is raped in her dorm room, another in the bathroom. Two women are victims to a “date rape” drug that is put into their drinks. The video ends on a hopeful note, with all of the survivors shown walking out of their dorm room with their friends on either side of them.

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The explicit and raw music video has created quite the buzz since its release on Sept. 17 with over 14 million views. One of those viewers is sophomore Desiree Corona.

“As someone who personally knows way too many women who have been sexually assaulted at some point in their life, I found this video very disturbing to watch,” said Corona. “It is a reminder that we live in a broken world where sexual assault is indeed a reality. I applaud Lady Gaga for this one.”

President Howard Keim, quoted in a recent Newton Kansan article, said the college is doing whatever it can to make sure the statistics don’t play out here.

“We know that Hesston College is a safe place, but one instance is too many,” he said. “It is a scar that is worn throughout life.”

The video raises awareness of a startling reality: One in five women will be sexually assaulted on a college campus. That’s a statistic that horrifies administrators at Hesston, and they’re working to make sure it doesn’t apply to our campus.

Earlier this year, students attended a forum on Title IX led by Rob Ramseyer, Vice President of Student Development and Athletic Director and Juli Winter, Director of Campus Life.

Title IX prohibits the discrimination on the basis of gender in educational programs or activities.  According to Winter, Hesston College is committed to providing an environment that promotes respect in an environment free of discrimination. Along with this forum, Ramseyer and Winter have led seven other Title IX training’s since the beginning of this year.

“We want to create awareness of the resources on campus,” said Winter. “We take this issue very seriously here at Hesston College. We strive to provide a safe environment and we don’t want students to suffer in silence if they experience sexual harassment or assault.”

President Keim affirms the work of Ramseyer and Winter by acknowledging the fact that extensive training is experienced by resident directors, faculty, staff, coaches and everyone who has contact with students.

Along with the Title XI training’s Hesston College has recently invited the Harvey County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Task Force and Safe House on campus in an effort to provide another confidential resource for those who have experienced sexual harassment and/or assault. They are trained advocates who will walk with the student through the process of obtaining medical care, through a possible Title IX investigation and if the student chooses, help them file a police report. Even if the student chooses not to report it to the college or the police, they will connect them with resources to help them process the trauma.

“Having the safe house provide another place for students or anyone on our campus who has an experience in this area is important,” said Keim.  

If you find yourself in need of any of the resources mentioned above you can find Julie Lehman, campus counselor in her office in Friesen Center.  Representatives from the Harvey County Safe House will be located in Julie’s office every Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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