By Katherine Cooper, Staff Writer
An important, yet often overlooked issue has recently been brought into the spotlight by Armstrong’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee president, Kayla Burns. With a public service announcement (PSA), she and her fellow students were able to help spread awareness of sexual assault.
The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) adviser, Jennifer Rushton was a great source of encouragement and support for the project. “The student athletes came up with the script and the whole video,” she said. “It took a few months, it was quite a process to work on the script and to edit it all. I was pretty excited when they wanted to do this video. They did a really good job with it.”
After having attended a conference about sexual assault, Jennifer Rushton and Kayla Burns were able to discuss the atmosphere on campus in regard to sexual assault. “They tried to portray how we talk about it now, and we shouldn’t talk about it like that. It’s never okay,” Rushton said.
To Rushton, the point of the video was “to get the word out there that it’s never the victim’s fault, and that there is a tremendous amount of support on campus for anyone who has been a victim.”
Jennifer Rushton was not the only person to show her support for the creation of the PSA. Deidra Dennie, Armstrong State University’s director of Equity, diversity, and Inclusion enjoyed being a part of the project as well. “I reviewed the script and gave them a copy of the title IX policy and they ran with it,” she said. “We gave them feedback and chose the one that we liked out of three different versions.”
According to Deidra, it wasn’t very difficult to get a group of students together willing to do the video. “I believe everyone on campus wants to be here. We love it here, and I think they truly, genuinely care. Everyone wanted to do the video.”
Deidra commented on the PSA’s relevance to what we should expect for campus life in the near future. “In 2016, the federal government will require campuses to survey students on sexual assault. Our campus climate survey which will be available for students to take on January 28th will include some of these questions.”
Another important point Deidra made was that a low sexual assault report rate doesn’t mean it’s not happening. “On our campus, reports are minimal. We hope that the PSA will make students feel safe to report.”
As admirable representations of good leadership on campus, everyone involved in the creation of the PSA have offered Armstrong students with valuable support and information about a sensitive topic that they approached with compassion and care.