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SGA hosts Campus Safety Week

October 21, 2017

 

Starla Gatson

Editor-in-Chief | sjg021@latech.edu

 

The week’s events included a panel to discuss sexual assault and the recent changes to Title IX. – Photo by Brian Blakely

Self-defense, Title IX and mental health awareness were just a few of the topics discussed during the Student Government Association’s (SGA) second annual Campus Safety Week.

 

From Oct. 9-13, the organization hosted informational events and panels centered around various safety resources, including those for mental health, sexual assault, domestic violence, emergency preparedness and self-defense. The week concluded with the Little Event, a campus beautification project.

 

Benjamin Rice, SGA president, said though this year’s events were fairly similar to its predecessor, it’s primary difference was the diverse group of students that participated this year.

 

“I think the biggest problem about doing these kinds of events is that the people who most need to hear about things like sexual assault or self-defense are the ones that don’t show up, but I think this year has been special in that we have had a wide variety of students going to events,” he said.

 

In addition to addressing topics like self-defense, the week’s events also included information on recent updates to Title IX and mental health awareness.

 

“Mental health and sexual assault are more likely to affect a student on campus than a robbery, so why not include them?” Rice, a senior English major, said. “I know they may not fit under the typical umbrella, but mental health issues like anxiety and depression are rampant on college campuses, so we felt as though we needed to address them.”

 

Kathleen Kiernan, CEO of Kiernan Group Holdings, Inc. and former federal law enforcement agent who has helped advise leaders in campus safety management, said universities should treat each week as Campus Safety Week in order to develop a mindset of enhanced situational awareness that is used on a daily basis.

 

“A culture of awareness, preparedness and confidence provides an advantage best realized when accepted wholly as part of university culture,” she said.

 

According to Kiernan, the threats college students should be prepared for depends on one’s optic and can vary in form.

 

“Violence can occur where we live, where we work, where we learn, where we play and where we worship,” she said. “There are legions of examples in each of these venues with varying degrees of consequences to those involved and to the institutions where a violent act occurs. The range of threats external to those brought on by natural disasters include violence, protests that devolve into violence, radicalization, drug and alcohol related issues, predatory sexual behavior and the less tactile threats related to theft and fraud.”

 

Jenna Price, the SGA’s director of campus activities, said she believes students are now more aware of the resources available to them, and hopes that in the future, they will take advantage of the golf cart service, the police department’s safety application and promptly report cases of stalking, harassment and misconduct to the police.

 

“In order for these initiatives to work and be effective, students must be willing to use them,” she said. “We have many resources, but the students do not use them to their full capability.”

 

Price, a senior sociology major, said she not only wanted to promote physical safety initiatives, but also those promoting mental health.

 

“So many students are affected by mental health issues but because these are not physical symptoms and problems, they bury the hurt,” she said. “There is not the same stigma on mental health as there used to be. Help for students who suffer from mental health issues, even if it’s temporary, is available and usage should be encouraged.”

 

Price said she helped create Campus Safety Week specifically to show students how much they are cared for by the university and its administration.

 

“Families take care of each other and that is why we have all these resources,” she said. “The heart I put behind this event is not only for awareness but also for each and every student. I love Tech because it has been a place where I can learn, grow and be loved. No student should ever feel like they cannot have these things also.”

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