September 28, 2016

Student opens up about sexual assault during Delegate’s Agenda

As one of the presenters speaking on the topic of sexual awareness and education, C.D. Wiley spoke not only

Photo By Jordan Palmer Webster students Hailey Kaufman and Caroline Wiley present on student sexual awareness at Fall 2014 Delegates Agenda.

Photo By Jordan Palmer
Webster students Hailey Kaufman and C. D. Wiley present on student sexual awareness at Fall 2014 Delegates Agenda.

with knowledge of the topic, but with experience. Wiley shared with the audience at Delegate’s Agenda on Sept. 30 that she was a sexual assault victim.

Two weeks prior, Wiley considered not speaking at Delegate’s Agenda because, other than a family friend, Wiley had not shared her assault with anyone.

Wiley was unsure if she was going to share her experience in her presentation or not. Regardless, Wiley said she felt she needed to tell her mom because she is the university secretary.

“That was probably one of the hardest conversations I have ever had in my entire life,” Wiley said. “Let’s just say coming out to my parents was like a piece of cake compared to telling my mom that.”

The Delegate’s Agenda is an opportunity for students to present ideas to better the university better to the administration. Other presented ideas focused on an increase of African American studies, better class time options for undergraduate students, improvements to the study abroad process and an increase in LGBTQ studies and issues.

Wiley, a third-year double major in educational studies and media communications, said had it not been for the encouragement of others, she would not have spoken at Delegate’s Agenda. Wiley said Jennifer Stewart, director of student engagement, and Sarah Tetley, director of First Year Programs, reached out to her and talked to her about speaking on the subject of sexual assault awareness.

Wiley said her attack was something she had buried for a long time. Wiley said she was in the sixth grade when she was sexually assaulted. Until last year, Wiley kept her attack hidden.

“A part of me thought I should have known better or that it was my fault,” Wiley said.

Alongside senior Hailey Kaufman, Wiley proposed Webster adopt new policies to better prevent sexual assault from happening to students, as well as faculty and staff. Wiley and Kaufman proposed mandatory training of student leaders, as well as offering an eight-week course to students covering different issues coinciding with sexual assault.

The course, which would be optional, would educate students on different topics like self-defense, drug and alcohol abuse and aspects of a healthy, romantic relationship.

After the presentation, the floor was open for comments or questions from the audience. Among those who spoke, freshman Scott Lunte asked if there would be ways to address male victims of sexual assault, which he is.

“I dont think I would have said anything had Wiley not said anything. I was just concerned that people might be getting the wrong idea, as society does in general, that sexual assault is only focused on female sexual assault,” Lunte said. “I just wanted to ensure that it was being broadcast for everyone that men get sexually assault, too. I felt the urge to say something.”

Wiley said Lunte’s admission, among others, showed the power in just talking about sexual assault.

“It was unexpected at first, but that was the entire purpose of the presentation; there is not enough talk about (sexual assault). That is what we want,” Wiley said.

Wiley said she knows people are not prone to talk about their experiences themselves. She said the sexual assault awareness and education will be able to change this.

Kaufman said students were fortunate to live in a time when sexual assault is being better addressed by the university, the state of Missouri and the country as a whole. Kaufman said Webster University is making progress in learning how to report sexual offenses and support the victims as well as their friends and families.

On Sept. 18, Webster put into effect their updated policy on sexual assault, harassment and other offenses. The policy includes updates like more definitive classification of sexual misconduct and procedures for reporting and readdressing individual complaints by Webster students and employees.

The policy also requires online training in sexual assault for full-time and part-time faculty and staff.

“But it’s important to move beyond the reporting and supporting,” Kaufman said, “and start focusing on education and methods of prevention because it is on us to provide (the university’s) employees and students with resources that they can use here, elsewhere and for the rest of their lives.”

 

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