In honor of April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a student group in Conway, Time’s Up Hendrix, recently held an event to draw attention to the issue.
Dozens of students, administration, faculty and more gathered together in the brick pit on the Hendrix College campus for the Don’t Keep it Under Cover campaign April 10.
One of the organizers, Chloe Matthews, said she knew the girl at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville who was putting together their event.
“In solidarity, in connection with [their movement] that is happening in Fayetteville, [we] wanted to connected our two movements and give them a voice,” she said.
Matthews said the idea on that day was to carry a sheet to express the significance of not keeping a person’s sexual assault encounter under cover and to visibly and vocally stand with survivors.
Being a junior on campus, she said she’s seen up close people who have been affected by the act.
“Watching how Hendrix and the administration has handled that has hurt a lot of people,” Matthews said.
When asked if she was referring to a specific incident, Matthews said she meant victim blaming in general but also the lack of education on reporting an incident and more.
“A lot of the students … we don’t know how the reporting and the hearing process works,” she said.
Matthews said that was a part of the reason they wanted to host the awareness event — to draw attention to the overall gap in knowledge on campus.
“The students need to know if this happens to them, what do they do,” she said. “That’s an information gap that’s been present for a while and we just felt like it was time to tell students.”
Matthews said she is a part of a presidential task force on sexual assault, which includes multiple sub groups that look at residence life, the reporting process, continuing education and more to try to bring change to Hendrix.
She said the Time’s Up Hendrix group never planned the protest to attack the administration.
“This is just to visibly show what is happening on campus and to be here physically and to give a voice to survivors,” Matthews said.
President Bill Tsutsui attended the event, and even carried a sheet in support.
“The student leaders and participants did an excellent job,” he said. “It was a constructive conversation designed to help us move forward. I appreciate all of our students, faculty and staff who are working to raise awareness of this issue on campus.”
Tsuitsui said he went to the protest because the students needed to be heard on this issue and he wanted to listen and stand with the survivors and supporters.
He said after hearing the students speak, it was evident Hendrix needed to continue to increase their support services and services for survivors and their supporters.
“We need to provide more education and information for all students about Title IX, sexual assault prevention, bystander intervention, reporting options and explanations of the hearing process and our institutional requirements under federal law,” Tsutsui said.
In addition, he said, they need to encourage ongoing conversations in the Hendrix community around this topic.
“This is a painful, difficult and important issue at Hendrix and on college campuses across the country,” Tsutsui said. “#MeToo and #TimesUp are significant and no institution can or should ignore them.”
He said they will to continue to develop ways to address the societal issue in the specific context of the community at Hendrix while meeting the students’s needs, respecting the rights of the accused and ensuring due process while also fulfilling their obligations under the law.
As far as reporting goes, Tsutsui said all incidents should be reported to the Office of Public Safety, the campus Title IX investigator or the dean of students and once a report is made, an investigation will begin and evidence will be collected. Finally, a hearing is arranged with a faculty and staff panel to determine responsibility and sanctions.
“Students also have the opportunity to report incidents to local police,” he said.
Tsutsui said Hendrix offers a new support group led by the director of counseling services and direct students toward resources including free on-campus counseling, the local Women’s Center’s crisis hotline and support group and the national hotline as well.
He said they also offer academic, living, transportation and work solutions.
“We will assist students in reporting incidents to local police and filing a no contact order on campus, as well as a legal order of protection,” Tsutsui said.