WVU Tech Service Week: Sexual Assault Awareness Month
WVU Tech Service Week is April 22-30. The event allows Golden Bear volunteers to connect with and serve a wide range of communities. As part of the week’s events, the WVU Tech Counseling Center will host a screening of the documentary “Audrie & Daisy” in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The screening will be hosted on Wednesday, April 26 at 5:30 p.m. in the WVU Tech ballroom on the Montgomery campus. The award-winning documentary focuses on two teenage girls who were the victims of sexual assault and the impact that was felt by these young women, their families, friends, schools and communities as examined through the eyes of social media.
Mary Hoke, MSW, LCSW, is a behavioral health therapist who oversees WVU Tech’s counseling services. She said the film is a powerful way for students to see a how sexual assault can be life-changing.
“By viewing the film, students can better understand the complexity of sexual assault, the consequences of not telling and of opening up, the emotional toll that it takes on the victim and the ripple effects felt by all those involved,” she said. “This film also does a wonderful job at shining a light on the world of social media bullying and the way it can quickly spiral out of control.”
A panel discussion will follow the film screening. The panel will allow attendees to talk with Hoke, a social work graduate from WVU and two advocates from the Women’s Resource Center in Beckley.
“This will be a time to talk about our reaction to the film, what we can do to raise awareness and where and who to go to for help or assistance if needed,” said Hoke.
Hoke said that students who want to know more about sexual assault prevention or reporting have access to a wealth of informational literature through the counseling center. Students can also contact the Women’s Resource Center or the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information & Services (FRIS) to find resources, referral information and local phone numbers for support and help.
“Knowledge is power. The more our students know, the more they are able to take a stand. We need to empower our students, male and female, to stand up for one another and themselves. As we raise awareness, we decrease our tolerance and increase our ability to stand as one,” she said.
She said that students who want to report an incident should contact campus police and/or seek help from the counseling center and WVU Tech’s Student Health Clinic. Students may confidentially discuss an incident with Hoke or with Dr. Peggy Fink, who oversees the clinic.
But Hoke says the real key is prevention. She suggests students arm themselves with information.
“If we can teach students, faculty and staff about sexual assault, consent, rape, mandated reporting, confidentiality and so on, we have already won half the battle. My office is 100% confidential. I want to help and I want students to know that they can feel safe and secure when they come to talk to me,” she said.
Scotty Stone, who organized WVU Tech Service Week, said that incorporating Sexual Assault Awareness Month into the series was an important way to show students that taking ownership in the community is about more than volunteerism.
“Many sexual assaults go unreported every year, and the hope is that, by showing this film, we can change the state of mind that leads to people ignoring the issue. No one should have to suffer without support,” he said.