by Holly Parker
On Wednesday, November 2nd at 7:00pm, Katie Koestner will be on campus (Freer Auditorium) to speak about sexual assault.
As someone with people in my personal life who are survivors of sexual assault, and as someone who over the past nine years has listened to students recount the worst experience of their lives to me, I understand the importance of sexual assault education. We live in a nation where it is okay to show violence and sex scenes on television shows and in movies, but when we want to talk about getting consent before sexual contact, it is too taboo, embarrassing, and a “mood killer.” We live in a culture where rape jokes are still a thing, and what a victim was wearing is somehow relevant. When we have statistics that tell us one in five females will be sexually assaulted while in college, when victims are blamed for the assault they experienced, when individuals don’t understand consent, when colleges and universities fail to properly handle sexual assault cases, when rapists receive light sentences, when a presidential candidate can mention sexually assaulting women and people downplay it as “locker room talk” – it is evident that we need sexual assault education! We understand sexual assault is morally and legally wrong, but sexual assault education is not as simple as “Don’t Rape!”
We know all men are not rapists and all rapists are not men. We know victims are not only women. We know sexually assaulting someone is wrong. But knowing is not helping to prevent sexual assaults or educate society on consent and bystander intervention. You shouldn’t have to tell someone, “What if it was your sister, or your mom?”, for someone to care about victims of sexual assault. But sometimes to get involved, to understand how important sexual assault education is, you need a catalyst. You need to see and hear a sexual assault survivor tell you their story to truly understand how it affects their lives.
Katie Koestner will tell you her story.
I attended a conference two years ago where Katie Koestner presented. The conference was for college and university police, safety, and security administrators – individuals that in their careers have listened to many survivors of sexual assaults tell their story. These were people who knew the importance of sexual assault education. These people, myself included, gave her a standing ovation; her presentation was that powerful. Katie Koestner’s presentation is emotionally raw, even 26 years later.
This is not another “boring” lecture. The subject matter is serious and sensitive, but she is going to share a piece of herself with you. I hope it inspires you to join us in educating our community and society on sexual assault, consent, and bystander intervention. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and march on Capitol Hill for change (although that is great if you are inspired to do so); it could be something as simple as helping a friend get home safely, stepping in to help a stranger in need, or telling someone rape jokes are not okay.
I am so excited and honored to have Katie Koestner come to Paul Smith’s College to present. I hope you will all join me in attending her presentation on Wednesday, November 2nd.
Holly Parker is the Director of Campus Safety at Paul Smith’s College. She started at Paul Smith’s College nine years ago as a Campus Safety Officer, and her passion for her job lead to a career in campus safety. She is a Title IX investigator, a R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense) self-defense instructor, and often works with the student counseling center, Planned Parenthood, STOP Domestic Violence (Behavioral Health Services North, Inc.), the NYSP Campus Sexual Assault Victims Unit to provide sexual assault prevention education training, and additional programs on campus.