3D program at Shepherd raises sexual assault awareness

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(THE PICKET)—With one in five undergraduate females nationwide being victims of sexual assault, Shepherd University is working to decrease the amount of interpersonal violence on and around campus.

“The goal of the new program is to create a culture where students witness a situation where someone is at risk, they are able to recognize and use the three ‘Ds’ to intervene,” said Rhonda Jackson, counselor and Sexual Assault Response Coordinator at Shepherd.

Every Thursday there is a “3D” event held. The three Ds stand for direct, distract and delegate. To direct, one should address behavior and state that what is happening is not safe or acceptable. To distract, one should create some kind of distraction that prevents the behavior from continuing. Finally, to delegate, an individual should get someone who has more power involved in the situation. Counselors and other individuals involved in the events on campus explain to students how to recognize when an individual is at risk and how to apply these three actions in such a situation.

The events feature lime green signs, awareness pins and other green products depending on the event. Lime green was chosen as the official color of the campaign because it stands out.

Shepherd became part of a national, three-year grant in 2011 sponsored by the Department of Justice Office on Women Against Violence. Many states across the country were awarded with the grant by the U.S. Department of Justice for Sexual Assault. The grant was to be used for raising awareness and the prevention of sexual assault on campus. West Virginia was among those selected, and Shepherd and eight other universities in the state were selected to receive the grant. The grant was extended another year for Shepherd in 2015.

Since the grant has been extended, counseling services, the health center, residence life and members of the Shepherd Community have been making a combined effort to prevent interpersonal violence. Together, the campus community has held events including a spirit night at Chick-Fil-A, a 5K run and a selfie contest last semester. This semester one of the events held gave students the opportunity to design T-shirts to support survivors of interpersonal violence. These T-shirts were hung up in the Midway as part of the Clothesline Project.

“I think the new program is perfect for awareness and encouraging students to step in,” said Mia Hernandez, a senior communications major. “I’ve been hearing a lot of stories from other students about what they did to prevent possibly unsafe situations.”

According to the Washington Post, 20 percent of female undergraduate students said that they were assaulted in 2014, and 5 percent of undergraduate males also experienced assault or misconduct. The Association of American Universities surveyed students from 27 universities across the country with a range of public and private schools included in the survey.

The campaign on Shepherd’s campus reaches out to female and male students. Informational lectures about the types of sexual assault and the importance of prevention are given to First Year Experience Program classes and all of the athletic teams on campus. These lectures focus on male and female violence.

Shepherd’s Annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report from 2014 say that there were eight reported incidents of sexual assault on campus from 2013.

“The number of assaults on campus is likely under reported,” Jackson said. “This may be because some victims feel like because Shepherd is a small campus they won’t be believed.”

Brooke Binns is a writer for the Picket.  She can be reached at tbinns01@rams.shepherd.edu