With a passion for activism, Andrea Butler ’15 believed that the best way to combat sexual assault on Fairfield’s campus was to start a conversation with students, faculty, administrators and community representatives.
Butler reached out to Dean of Students Karen Donoghue ’03 to do just that, after learning about an initiative from the Dean of Students’ office to increase bystander intervention.
“This is something I’ve been very passionate about,” Butler said. “Sexual assault is a problem on college campuses. It shouldn’t happen and there is absolutely no excuse for it.”
Community Educator for The Center of Family Justice Marlon Ramnanan, emphasized increasing education and reporting when it comes to combating sexual assault, explaining that people need to be more informed of what sexual assault entails.
“People don’t just become assailants overnight,” Ramnanan, said, explaining that the amount of assailants is a “very small percentage,” but they are usually “repeat offenders.”
For Butler, sexual assault is “any unwanted sexual contact: anything from getting groped to being raped,” agreeing that students need to be clear on what counts as sexual assault.
According to the university’s website, Fairfield defines sexual assault as “any sexual act or any form of sexual contact without consent, including any vaginal, oral, anal or urethral penetration with any body part or object.”
However, sexual assault cannot be combated only through its definition, said Community Educator for The Center of Family Justice Rachel Lang ‘14, saying, “We need to engage in a cultural shift in the way we discuss sexuality. She exlained that raising awareness about the issue involves redefining the social norms that can come with being assaulted.
During the conversation, Resident Assistant Matt DeCaprio ‘15 discussed Man 2 Man, a living and learning community for freshman males that aims to “redefine masculinity and instill a strong code of moral ethics in students.”
The conversation united students and resident assistants with professors, administrators and members from the Fairfield Police Department, Department of Public Safety and The Center of Family Justice, all of whom serve as supportive resources for students.
In an email sent to the Fairfield community on Sept. 30, Donoghue sent out a list of confidential resources available to students for sexual-assault related incidents, including Counseling & Psychological Services, the Student Health Center and most recently, Chrystie Cruz, a confidential advisor. The complete list of resources is available at fairfield.edu/survivor.
“From what I’ve seen, Fairfield is really good about this,” Butler said, adding that it seems as though faculty, students and administrators are there to support any victims if they choose to come forward.