Local experts on sexual assault and domestic violence answered anonymous student-submitted questions during the annual Sexual Assault Response panel hosted by Students for Violence Prevention (SVP).
The goal of the event, held on Wednesday, Sept. 29 virtually via Zoom at 6 p.m, was to provide resources and statistics to attendees as well as a place for interested students and community members to ask questions about sexual assault (and related topics) in regard to campus culture and the Pittsburg community overall.
“I’ve been here (at PSU) going on my fourth year now,” said Stu Hite, chief of police at PSU and one of the sexual assault panelists. “Before (PSU) I had 30 years of law enforcement experience with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, most of that as a detective. It’s nice to be on a more proactive scene in my newer position than in my previous position where it was mainly reactive. That’s really all we had time to do was go from call to call to call. I really enjoy getting to do these type of things cross-campus, answering questions to hopefully dispel some (sexual assault) myths out there, finding out ways to improve from the University Police’s stand-point, and increasing interaction with faculty, students, and staff.”
The panel was hosted by Wren Lowrey, senior in biology and SVP president. The panelists selected for the sexual assault response panel included a wide variety of experts from organizations in relation to the topic in question, including representatives from SafeHouse, University Counseling Services, and Q-Space, as well as a sexual assault specialist from a local hospital.
“I’ve been a sexual assault nurse since 2011 at Via Christi,” said Wendy Overstreet, a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) nurse with Via Christi Health in Pittsburg. “Since last year, we started treating sexual assault at the Bryant Student Health Center. I also work for a grant for PSU that has brought more sexual assault care to our area, and our new grant has started to where I’m going to bring more sexual assault nurses and programs throughout the state of Kansas.”
The event began with a fun, interactive quiz component meant to get attendees thinking about sexual assault and its relations to domestic violence, the LGBTQ+ community and the university atmosphere. Once the quiz portion concluded, SVP co-advisor Tiffany DeMoss read anonymous questions submitted by students though a website using the hashtag “#IBelieveSurvivors.” Some question topics included the duties of a SANE nurse, the effect of gender on rates of domestic violence, and the legal definition of sexual assault. Questions were either asked of the panelists as a whole or directed to a particular panelist depending on the nature of the question itself.
Anyone interested in joining SVP and helping on future events similar to the response panel can request membership to the organization via Gorilla Engage and/or attend SVP weekly meetings on Tuesdays at 3:30 p.m. in the Axe Library.