President Sharon Smith said “No More” to sexual violence in a video addressing the student body. President Smith committed to creating a safe and caring campus environment on Sept. 13.
President Smith stated that she wants students to feel protected, and therefore “if there’s an accusation [of sexual violence], then it is fully and confidentially investigated.” She hopes that any student who has been a victim of violence will come forward.
Regarding the Trump administration’s recent declaration regarding a change in the Title IX law, President Smith stated that the University of Pittsburgh, “will be continuing with the framework that has been established… a very aggressive response to some rather public instances of sexual assault. It called for a whole framework of investigation when there is an accusation of sexual offense.”
Discussing the work that has been done to create a safe environment, President Smith mentioned that they have worked on “Analysis of surveys… to try to understand the underpinning of violence.” She also mentioned that training has been given to incoming students to help them understand their responsibilities regarding consent and violence.
Dr. Sheila Confer, one of the primary organizers of the training for incoming students, said that this research is a collaboration of work from the Blackburn Center, Seton Hill, and the Center for Applied Research. It includes videos written and performed by students discussing prosocial bystander training, and an online course about consent.
Each freshman class also takes a survey as they enter and when they graduate, discussing what programming or training can be improved upon for the campus. This researching survey has
been used on our campus since 2014, and is consistently being updated. Dr. Confer said that any student hoping to help in this research, or to act in the training videos, should come speak to her.
“I’m always hoping that students will confide in me about experiences that they have,” Dr. Confer said. “I think unfortunately that a lot of things happen to our students here that none of us ever know about or ever find out about, you want to be able to help them. The more you know, the more you can do.”
Both President Smith and Dr. Confer made it clear that they will support students who come forward as victims of sexual violence, and suggest contacting the Blackburn Center if the student is not able to come forward. The Blackburn Center has a completely confidential 24 hour hotline for crisis counseling, as well as an emergency shelter, support groups, medical advocacy, and legal system support.
24 Hour Hotline