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Campus initiates dialogue on assault

Staff and support groups offer a welcoming hand at CSB/SJU, as conversation about sexual assault remains a pressing issue for students and administration.

Professor Kari-Shane Davis Zimmerman, commonly known around campus as KSDZ, is an associate professor of theology. She also works with the CSB student development center, running talks with female students about the importance of face-to-face communication.

“This is everybody’s issue,” Zimmerman said. “Sexual assault happens. We want to talk about that, not hide that.”

In addition to talks provided at first-year orientations this year, Zimmerman leads programming at CSB residence halls for discussion of ideas about healthy personal relationships. The primary objective, she explains, is to “help students first know themselves.” With that, they come to understand their “non-negotiables.”

“H-O-U-S-E stands for ‘do no Harm, Own your actions, Use common sense, Speak up, Everybody matters…every body matters,'” Zimmerman said. “A person’s body is not to be bought, to be consumed.” Participants are taught to “not think about the body, but the soul, heart, mind.”

A lot may be said about the ‘hook-up’ culture that encourages stereotypes surrounding relationships, sex and communication about such things.

“Not everyone is doing it, that individuals should learn what they want from a relationship, and they need to learn how they will form a personal relationship with a potential partner,” Zimmerman said.

The idea is that the women learn to “form healthy relationships as habit…this practice is needed for a healthy marriage.”

Assistant Director of Health Services Lori Klapperich encourages similar verbal communication with both victims and perpetrators. Klapperich is one of many involved in the Bystander Training Program, which teaches students three essential principles: react, reflect, respond.

Bystander Training addresses various types of assault, not just sexual, with “staff trained in intervention techniques.” People of all ages are affected by sexual assault. Participants are encouraged to “get some perspective…to see this issue through their eyes. We could live with both the victim and with the perpetrator.” Klapperich said. “It’s an exploration…and it’s okay to speak up.”

The Central Minnesota Assault Center welcomes members of the community including college students to volunteer for the 24-hour crisis center as a phone support respresentative. The center deals with various types of assault cases. Volunteers participate in two 40-hour advocate training sessions annually. Participants are taught how to respond to cases of assault and the emotional and physical impact imparted on victims seeking help.

The issue here, Zimmerman and Klapperich agree, is that such discussion and training needs to be encouraged among the SJU population.

“Programming needs to come together and to be multi-faceted,” Prof. Zimmerman said. It’s about “helping men to help other men not to commit sexual assault.”

CSB Health Advocates in conjunction with C.E.R.T.S will be holding a walk-through display entitled ‘A Journey through Healing’, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sept. 23 and 24, at Gorecki 204, CSB.

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