Panel focuses on sexual assault

The panel provided students with essential information.
Photo Submitted by Andy Jean-Baptiste

The Florida A&M University Police Department, Student Health Services, Office of Title IX, and the Gamma Alpha Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta sorority  partnered on Wednesday to host a panel “Preventing and Responding to Interpersonal Violence.”

The panel discussion involved sexual assault, domestic violence and substance abuse.

Lt. Audrey Alexander of the FAMU PD, Tanya Tatum, director of Student Health Services, and Carrie Gavin, FAMU’s Title IX officer and director of the Equal Opportunity Programs, sat on the panel discussion.

One question that brought discussion for part of the evening pertaining to sexual assault was, “Does how women dress matter?”

Females in the room shared their opinions of how you dress does matter in terms of your safety. Others disagreed with that view, saying  women should not be touched if consent is not given.

The panelists enlightened the students on how consent is needed for anything, especially issues regarding sexual acts under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Students were advised to understand what they are drinking.

Tatum talked about the dangers of drinking “juice” at parties. “There are many different liquors mixed in the juice. You never know how much alcohol you are consuming,” she said.

If both parties are under the influence, there should be no sexual actions, she added.

Panelists  reinforced the idea of consent, knowing whether or not they are comfortable. Conversations with the partner helps with knowing what is acceptable and what is not.

Spenscia Lapaine, a senior business administration major and a member of Zeta Phi Beta, said, “We as Zetas support our soror Lt. Alexander, who stands against things like domestic violence, sexual assault and drunk driving, raising awareness to all these issues on campus.”

The panelists explained how sexual assault reports are rarely made by the survivors. Reports are made by roommates, resident assistants, and even parents.

Faculty at the university are obliged to report any information regarding sexual assault or domestic violence of any student to Title IX. From there Title IX will speak to the survivor and explain their options.

Gavin, the Title IX officer, said, “One out of every five undergrad females will experience an attempted rape or an actual rape. Students should be cognizant and knowledgeable of their rights. Men to take notes and ladies be careful.”