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New interest group at Marshall

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A student interest group focused on preventing sexual assault conducted its first meeting Wednesday in Prichard Hall 143.

The Women and Gender Center proposed the group to a number of students following a recent survey which revealed that many Marshall University students were unaware of resources provided by the center.

“We are really trying to change the culture on campus by getting students involved and being active,” Claire Snyder, program coordinator of the Women and Gender Center, said.

The main goal of the group is to create a safer environment at Marshall by spreading information and awareness about sexual violence surrounding students.

“It’s important to have a group where those connected to sexual assault can get information and resources,” Elena Compton, a sophomore social work major, said. “We want to tell people that they aren’t alone.”

As sexual assault is a major problem on college campuses around the nation, Snyder said it is important for those affected to have a safe environment to learn in.

“Everyone knows somebody who’s been affected by issues surrounding sexual violence,” Snyder said. “Anytime we’re able to give students a positive way to discuss their stories we see them gain some power back.”

One of the ways the center is hoping to combat a lack of knowledge is to spread information about Title IX, a federal law which states students should be allowed to receive an education without the threat of discrimination, harassment or violence.

“Everyone has heard of Title IX, but not everyone knows what it is,” Stephanie Hansell, a senior psychology major, said. “We would like for students to have common knowledge about the process.”

Through awareness of Title IX, Snyder said she hopes the program will contribute to changing the culture on Marshall’s campus.

“If someone doesn’t feel safe in the classroom they don’t have an equal opportunity of an education,” Synder said. “We’re aiming to have conversations with students to better understand their barriers.”

While education and awareness are at the forefront of the interest group, Snyder said she would like to ultimately create a safe space for students to voice their opinions.

“Student voices are so important,” Snyder said. “That’s how things on campus get changed.”

The group is aiming to set small goals that will help them advocate for big changes on campus.

“We’re listening to what everyone is saying, we understand that there are issues and we’re working to fix them,” Hansell said. “We’re trying to make [Marshall] a safer learning environment.”

Joelle Gates can be contacted at [email protected].

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