Event Informs Students About Emotionally-Sound Practices
By Lucia Rossi
Traciana Graves, a strategist who works to create both safe workplaces and colleges, led an interactive presentation on what “consent” means in sex on October 27 in the Williamson Theatre.
The presentation focused on urging students to shed light on why it’s necessary to talk about practicing safe sexual activity by putting consent at the forefront.
Students expressed that people should understand that consent is the first step, awareness should be heightened, and people should give each other consent.
Graves hoped that through “appreciative inquiry,” college students as a group can focus on positive action and, possibly, bring about change.
She told the audience that everything you say to someone impacts them forever.
Switching gears, Graves moved from lecturing the audience to an interactive session, asking a series of questions that categorized certain college and workplace statistics.
The first question asked that 20 people stand.
According to Graves, this group represents “standing proxy” for the number of people who end their college careers based on how they were treated on campus because they were wrongfully treated.
“When will you be the difference in someone’s life?” Graves expressed.
She asked for people to stand once again, only this time, 48, which represents the number of students under the age of 24 who tried to end their own lives.
Aiming next to hear directly from audience members, Graves followed up, asking “If you know someone who self-harms, stand up,” and two dozen students stood.
She wanted to hear the audience’s opinions on why people harm themselves.
“It’s the only thing that makes them feel,” an audience member who was invited to the microphone said.
“It’s beautiful that you’re using your voices to say things that matter,” an excited Graves said to the crowd.
60 more people were asked to stand. This represented the number of women who will be sexually assaulted during their college careers.
“Where is the ‘yes’?” Graves asked.
Sometimes people get confused and may not even think they were raped when it actually happened and that 60 percent of men are ignorant to what they did, Graves said.
According to the slideshow, 70 percent of males and 50 percent of females in high school think that forced sexual activity is okay.
Graves shared a story about how she met a woman who witnessed a girl get gang raped at a Dartmouth college party where students responded with things like, “People always blame the victim” and “People feel the need to have sex to keep up a status quo.”
To accent the story, part of an interview with Maya Angelou was screened, during which she says, “Love is a condition so powerful. It may be that which pushes and urges the blood in the veins. Courage, you have to have courage to love somebody because you risk everything. Everything.”
One moved student struggled to hold back tears as she said to the room of over 200 that “Courage can be taken away so quickly.”
Cards on which audience members could anonymously write about a personal storywere handed out to the audience.
Some prompts included: Horrible names have you been called, what challenges do you face, and what is a hopeful message did you take from that challenge.
The last part of the presentation featured an open invitation for anyone to share a personal story or experience with the room.
Despite a heavy reluctance to participate throughout the event, more and more people went up to speak.
One student expressed that his family members constantly call him names like “pussy” which he said made him feel weak.
At one point, members approached speakers to comfort them with hugs and pats on the back as their emotions swelled.
Before the presentation wrapped up, Graves called for a group hug among those brave enough to speak and the audience applauded.
“Sometimes you have to know true pain to understand true happiness,” said Graves.