PRIDE! hosts special forum on sexual harassment, assault

Blair Donald


Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) coordinator Jennie O’Connell presented statistics about sexual assault and harassment Kent State’s PRIDE! meeting Thursday.

“It’s real. It happens,” O’Connell said. “The numbers show it, one in four women will experience rape in their lifetime, one in five college women, one in 33 men. It’s really happening to people and it’s not something that we can just pretend happens ‘out there’.”

PRIDE!, the LGBTQ supportive on-campus student group, hosted SART and the following discussion as a special part of their meeting.

SART, a group dedicated to providing a support network for victims of sexual assault, began the meeting and then the floor opened for discussion about responses to and prevention of harassment and assault. The meeting took place at 9 p.m. in room 317 in the Student Center.

The SART presentation included an introduction to the Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services (SRVSS) Office and a description of what the office does. The services the office provides include providing the victim with proper medical resources, counseling and legal information.

O’Connell talked about looking for warning signs, how to support victims, what giving consent is considered and what assault, harassment and violence are considered.

“It’s not what the victim can do to prevent it, it’s what the community can do as a whole. Step in if you see something happening or if a situation feels wrong,” O’Connell said.

The discussion included defining “slut-shaming,” defined as making anyone feel guilty about their sexuality, clothing or behavior and an explanation of rape culture. Rape culture examples included rape jokes, blaming the victim, promoting the idea that people “ask for it” and the many unreported rape cases.

More examples in the discussion came from the media; one example cited was from the Disney channel show “Jessie” when a character states another was “asking for it” when he is attacked by a zebra (the character is in a zebra costume). The point was that rape has become a casual subject in today’s society, according to the presentation.

Billy Gruszewski, an integrated mathematics major and a senior, said “A lot of the statistics on our community were surprising. Gay males compared to straight males have double the rape cases and there are no statistics on people who are asexual.”

“In our society not a lot of people know about this issue. I run across people who don’t even know the proper terms for people who are gay or lesbian. The way that people talk shows that people aren’t familiar with our community in general because of the way that they were raised,” he said.

Brandon Stephens, president of PRIDE!, said that the topic was an extremely important one.

“Sexual assault, rape, sexual harassment; those are all things that can dangerously impact a human being and they’re things that are a lot more common than we think,” Stephens said.

“We wanted people to take away the seriousness of the issue. When people understand that hey are at risk, most of the time they can better prevent these things from happening.

April is sexual assault awareness month and SRVSS is holding several events throughout the month. You can find out more on their website at

For more information about PRIDE!, visit their Facebook page at

Contact Blair Donald at [email protected].