By Michael Rota
Each Fall, Bryant hosts the annual Ethics Event, which aims to educate students on real life ethical dilemmas they may encounter in the workplace. This year, the presentation is titled “Helping When Help is Needed: Sexual Violence and Bystander Intervention,” which will be held on Wednesday, November 16th from 2:00-4:30 p.m. While the majority of the audience will be freshman and other first year students since it falls under the category of Gateway Events, the Ethics Events welcomes all students as observers or facilitators.
The event is a little different this year, whereas instead of one keynote speaker, there will be a panel discussion on sexual violence following the case study workshop. In the workshops, small groups of Gateway students and student facilitators will meet to debate the case they previously read. The guided questions walk students through the case and the decisions they would face if they were active participants in the situation. Facilitators are available to lead them on the right track, but also to stimulate deliberation.
After the small group sessions, students will head over to the MAC for the panel discussion. The speakers will be prompted with pre-determined questions about the Bryant Community and how it can be improved through student intervention. The floor will be opened for the audience to ask questions, as well, so if there is any topic not discussed, feel free to speak up. The members of the panel include Kelly Boutin (director of the Hochberg Women’s Center), Lee Clasper-Torch (Coordinator for RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence), Stephen Bannon (Director of Department of Public Safety), Nwando Ofokansi (member of the Katie Brown Educational Project), and a member of Day One. The varied panelists offers a wide scope of the issue, and will be able to effectively educate students about many aspects of sexual violence on and off college campuses.
Bryant chose a cohesive group of influential individuals who should hopefully be able to engage the audience due to the provocative and relevant topic. Boutin is a perfect resource for Bryant students because she is on campus. She also runs the Advocacy Hotline, a 24/7 Hotline for anyone reporting an act of violence on campus. Her participation and coordination of advocacy events and training makes her a key candidate on the panel, because she understands the climate of campus. Similarly, Bannon is the head of DPS, the taskforce responsible for keeping students safe. His position on the panel will offer students a view into how campus security handles extreme situations. Clasper-Torch’s role is unique to the panel; he runs a project “committed to breaking the silence of…men’s violence,” a branch of sexual violence that is often dismissed. Most people are aware of the high risk for women to be attacked, but are unaware of the prevalence of male abuse. Being especially high on college campuses, it is vital that men at Bryant know that they are not alone. Ofokansi aims to educate RI citizens about healthy relationships in light of the Katie Brown tragedy. His advice for violence prevention promote small ways to make people feel safer, and his discussion on signs of an abusive relationship should prove to students how a seemingly positive couple can actually be in grave danger. Lastly, Day One will be sending a member to speak of their “treatment, intervention, education, advocacy, and prevention services.” They are the only agency in RI focusing on sexual assault as a community concern, and they reach out to all ages directly and indirectly, from physical and emotional aid, to policy changes in local communities.
In the wake of so many tragic events which have been hot topics for discussion on the news, over social media, and across college campuses, the 6th annual Ethic Event will be an unforgettable one. Its progressive way of engaging students more directly will hopefully stimulate intellectual conversation amongst students themselves, and initiate changes from both administration and the community to make Bryant a healthier, safer space for all of its residents.