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A Reason to Get Down

by  Jennie McKeon

At the University of West Florida, sexual violence is not just discussed one week out of the year. Thanks to the Student Government Association, The Get Down Series will present various events throughout the 2011-2012 academic year that keep sexual health an open discussion.

“This series has been funded by the Student Government Association, which is a clear demonstration that our students care about these important issues and want to have a part in maintaining a safe and healthy campus environment,” explained Patrick Preston, a psychologist at UWF, in an e-mail. “The series is designed to educate UWF students about sexual assault prevention and challenge perceptions related to gender and mainstream culture.”

To broaden the discussion of sexual violence, UWF will bring two guest speakers. They are part of what the Counseling and Wellness office calls MVP (Male Violence Prevention). The idea is to prevent violence before it happens and to ask, “what makes a man?”

“True prevention is changing the culture that sexual violence occurs in,” said Lindsey Greeson, coordinator of health promotion services and a peer educator advisor at UWF
First up will be Jackson Katz, Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m. Katz is a leading anti-sexist male activist. He is the creator of the educational videos “Tough Guise: Violence, Media and Crisis in Masculinity,” “Wrestling with Manhood” and “Spin the Bottle: Sex, Lies and Alcohol.”

“He is relatable to college students,” Greeson said of Katz. “He speaks to how media and alcohol influence sexual violence. You can’t talk about sexual violence without alcohol and drinking behaviors.”

Byron Hurt, who will be speaking Tuesday, Feb.8 at 6:30 p.m., not only has an ironic name, but discusses male roles in sexual violence much like Katz. His popular documentary

“Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes” offers a different perspective from Katz’s. Hurt talks about the music industry and how the hip-hop cultures plays with a man’s psyche.

“He’s a feminist, but a man’s man,” Greeson said. “He challenges the notion that men have to be dominant. They can be compassionate, too.”

The usual events such as Vagina Monologues and Take Back the Night are scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 29 and Wednesday, April 4, respectively.

In college, young adults begin to talk about taboo subjects, such as sexual violence much to some parent’s dismay. However, UWF has continually involved the students in the events so that it’s not so much an awkward lecture, but rather a relatable discussion.

“Students are more than willing to be involved and help at events,” Greeson said. “We try really hard to make this a student-driven effort. It’s great working with the students and seeing them have these light-bulb moments when they realize they can make a difference.”

The slogan for the Get Down Series is “Ask Consent, Give Respect, Get Down Tonight.” Other than being a clever spin on the KC and the Sunshine Band hit, the slogan points out that you can’t preach abstinence, but you can teach students about sexual violence so that they can make an educated choice.

And the best way to teach is to talk. There are plenty of psychologists and psychiatrists at the Counseling and Wellness Center who are ready to listen.

“There have been students I’ve referred to counseling who’ve realized they’ve been assaulted,” Greeson said. “It’s like ‘Oh, my God, that’s what that was’.”

And it’s not just about talking to victims, but learning how to be a good support system.

“We talk to them about how to intervene and how to help survivors,” Greeson said. “Sexual violence is one of the most under-reported crimes, but I know it’s happening when students tell me their friends’ experiences and their experiences.” {in}

JACKSON KATZ
WHEN: Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: UC Auditorium, University of West Florida, 11000 University Parkway
DETAILS: jacksonkatz.com uwf.edu/cws, 474-2420

BYRON HURT
WHEN: Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: UC Auditorium,University of West Florida, 11000 University Parkway
DETAILS: bhurt.com uwf.edu/cws, 474-2420

VAGINA MONOLOGUES
WHEN: Feb. 29 at 7 p.m.
WHERE: UC Auditorium, University of West Florida, 11000 University Parkway
DETAILS: uwf.edu/cws, 474-2420

TAKE BACK THE NIGHT
WHEN: April 4 at 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: UC Auditorium, University of West Florida, 11000 University Parkway
DETAILS: uwf.edu/cws, 474-2420