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MSU Goes Virtual with Sexual Assault Prevention Program

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MSU Goes Virtual with Sexual Assault Prevention Program

In the midst of a global pandemic, MSU’s Prevention, Outreach and Education Department is finding innovative ways to keep students engaged with relationship violence and sexual misconduct prevention programming through virtual events.

Traditionally, POE hosts a series of in-person events and educational trainings on campus aimed at preventing relationship violence and sexual misconduct. When the university shifted almost entirely to online education last year to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, POE acted quickly to engage students with interactive training.

By the end of fall semester, more than 20,000 students received POE training using Zoom and other virtual platforms.

“I am really proud of the way POE staff came together to redesign and adapt all of our in-person programs to a virtual format,” POE Director Kelly Schweda said. “We are committed to continue to engage and have conversations about gender-based violence, even if that means we all have to learn new ways to do that.” In addition to ongoing prevention training, the team hosted a series of programs, one of which was the It’s On Us Week of Action that allowed students to show support to survivors of sexual assault and raise awareness of gender-based violence.

The White House initiated It’s On Us in 2014 to encourage campus communities to take a stand against sexual violence. National weeks of action each fall and spring involve student groups and university units, and support multiple MSU RVSM programs.

“Through It’s On Us Week of Action, we can continue to empower our campus on different ways to prevent sexual and relationship violence and grow as a community,” Schweda said. “It is important to join together in supporting survivors who are healing, especially during this critical and stressful time.”

Author Chanel Miller delivered a keynote speech in a ?reside chat webinar during last fall’s Week of Action. She discussed her critically acclaimed memoir, “Know My Name,” in which she tells her story in the aftermath of a high-pro?le criminal sexual assault case against a classmate and college athlete. The novel is a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Book Review Notable Book, and a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, as well as a best book of 2019 in Time, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, NPR and People, among others. Miller is a 2019 Time Next 100 honoree and a 2016 Glamour Woman of the Year honoree under her pseudonym, “Emily Doe.”

“We were excited to virtually welcome Chanel Miller to MSU for It’s On Us Week of Action,” said Damaris Crocker DeRuiter, a peer educator coordinator in POE. “Chanel’s writing focuses on how personal narrative and empowerment play a role in survivors ?nding their voice and reclaiming them-selves and their stories, and I believe MSU students, faculty, staff and community members were incredibly inspired by her words.”

Throughout the week, POE held a virtual trauma-informed yoga session, and collect-ed letters to survivors in partnership with MSU’s Center for Survivors. POE plans to coordinate another It’s On Us week during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. The department will also continue to offer workshops for speci?c audiences through the end of the academic year. A list of these workshops can be found at poe.msu.edu.


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