At the front of the auditorium, Green Dot program coordinator Jenay Divin speaks about ways students can be proactive in preventing sexual assault and practice bystander intervention to make their campus a safer place. On a Thursday night, Carrington Hall seated over 100 students, with almost an even number of men and women in attendance.
During her presentation, Divin asked attendees how they would reach out to a friend who has been affected by sexual assault or domestic violence and is reluctant to seek help before pointing out one of the students to answer.
“I would say that educating yourself isn’t a bad thing,” the student said.
“That’s right, because educating yourself is half the battle,” Divin responded.
Bear With Us was an event held at Missouri State University to teach students about consent, sexual health and body autonomy and to answer any questions brought up by these issues.
“All of these relate to us as college students,” said Kaylynn Wake, sophomore sociology major, and president of Generation Action at MSU, the daughter organization of Planned Parenthood.
The event was a collaboration of MSU Generation Action, Me Too Springfield, Xi Omicron Iota, Sigma Tau Gamma, Delta Zeta, Theta Chi and MO State Green Dot.
The event was held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a question and answer session to give students a chance to ask about topics that were brought up or not covered by the presentation. Questions were submitted via text, rather than asked aloud.
“I feel like the anonymous aspect of sending a text, people are able to get their questions answered that they’ve kind of been carrying with them,” Wake said.
President of Me Too Springfield Jordan Harris said she helps at events like this because of her personal experiences. Harris said she was assaulted and wasn’t sure what to do or how to report it. With the rise of the national Me Too movement, she wanted to take the opportunity to help provide those resources and support to those in need.
Harris said Me Too Springfield aims to provide help to both men and women.
“We make it clear we stand for all survivors, not just one gender,” Harris said. “I think that sets the tone for the rest of the talks we give, that this isn’t just a one-gender issue.”
Both Harris and Wake’s organizations have found much support in Springfield, with more positive reception than negative. They said education on these topics isn’t a partisan issue.
“Sexual assault doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat,” Harris said.
MSU Generation Action is planning to hold another event called, “In Case You Missed It,” on Nov. 19, to continue the discussion of sexual education in a very in-depth presentation.
“We really believe open and honest conversations about sex are what change the culture around it and that there’s a lot of taboo that really doesn’t need to be there,” Wake said.
Wake said if there’s one thing students take from Bear With Us, she hopes it’s that all aspects of sexual assault awareness are connected.
“All the things we talked about tonight, it’s how they tie together to create a culture that can either perpetuate a safe place for a lot of people, or a dangerous place for a lot of people,” Wake said. “The fact that we didn’t learn about these things growing up in our education system doesn’t mean that we don’t need to know about them and that they’re not prevalent in our system.”