EWU Brings Sexual Assault Safety Events to Campus

By Kyle Fredricks, Staff Reporter

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, EWU has scheduled events to help educate students about sexual assault and to inform students on the resources available to those who have been affected.

Michelle Helmerick, student support and advocacy manager, said that part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month is educating the students about who to talk to in case of an event, and that those who have gone through an experience aren’t alone.

“We really want students to know that we are here for them,” said Helmerick. “This is a very important issue and a college campus is the best place for education and action.”

These events range from films, discussions, and workshops with guest speakers. All of these events have the goal of promoting awareness on how a student can seek help, get medical assistance or how to take the next step in recovery.

“We really want to establish a great relationship with each student that comes to us,” said Helmerick. “We really want to earn their trust, so we work with them from the second they sit down with us all the way until graduation. This could be sitting with them during a police interview, help with classes, or whatever it may be to help give them to confidence to face their problem.”

Other resources that are available to students are the EWU and Cheney police, private counselors, as well as community services that come to meet with the student.

“It can be very difficult sharing this information,” said Helmerick. “That’s why we want to give students as many resources as possible to help make them comfortable. We have community services that come to campus once a week for students to talk to. They are very flexible with students, meeting them where they feel most comfortable and at a time that works for them.”

Beyond giving students the resources they need and educating them on how they can help themselves, Helmerick said that another primary focus is how to help a friend.

“We believe this week is very helpful because a lot of students think that something like this could never happen to them,” said Helmerick. “Teach them how to listen and believe in them, and helpful things to say to them. It’s important for them to know that they aren’t by themselves.”

Educating students about general safety and teaching students about things to do in social situations or at events can help prevent attacks is also a big part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Clery Compliance Officer Jennifer Miller said that EWU hasn’t seen an increase in attacks over the last year.

Helmerick said that a safety tip covered is for students to look out for their friends. If students are with friends at a party or event, don’t leave without them. Also, when with a group make sure to stay with them or wander off alone and to always keep drinks protected.

In an effort to help improve EWU’s safety, Jack Zandi, a partner at Capptivation and creators of the smartphone app, Reach Out Editions, is introducing the app to EWU.

Zandi said that the goal of Reach Out Editions is to create a safer campus community at EWU, and that the app seeks to empower student survivors with information on options for support both on-and-off campus. The information on the app is campus specific and ensures that users are anonymous.

The app is available for download in the iOS app store as well as the Google Play Store, and once the app is downloaded, students can enter Eastern Washington University to be taken to EWU’s homepage.