Conference educates students regarding sexual violence

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SALT LAKE CITY -- For the next two days, Westminster College is home to a statewide conference that confronts sexual violence on college campuses.

Students from around the state are participating in the two-day Title IX symposium, which aims to take a big national issue like sexual violence and localize it by educating Utah college students on the facts and factors perpetuating it.

“I don’t think it’s about the NFL; I think it’s about men in general and the way we are raised and pass that teaching down to our boys,” said Ted Bunch, who is the co-founder of A Call to Men--a non-profit fighting sexual violence.

Bunch has worked with a task force in Washington D.C. as well as the NFL on the issue of sexual violence. He said while most violence against women is carried out by men, most men are not violent, which means the secret to combating the issue is to educate the majority.

“If we raise our voices and say, ‘that’s not cool’ whether it’s the violent behavior or sexist joke at the water cooler, we’ll start making changes,” Bunch said.

At the start of this year, the White House established a task force to protect students from sexual assault. Part of the national efforts involve educational conferences like the one going on at Westminster.

“To talk about rape culture, sexual assault on college campuses in an effort to start a conversation and hopefully initiate a level of change and prevention surrounding sexual assault,” said Mitchell Cox, who is a senior and fraternity member at the University of Utah.

Nicole Bedera is a sexual assault researcher, and she spoke about the cause.

“People who care about sexual assault but don’t really know very much yet, so this is like a crash course in understanding what’s happening and getting other people to start raising their voices,” she said.

Bedera graduated from Westminster College and is now a graduate student researching sexual assault on college campuses in America. She said a common misconception is that sexual assault is rampant among athletes or fraternities.

“We’re finding women are being sexually assaulted in college regardless of what other institutions for men exist,” Bedera said.

The conference goes through Saturday, with scheduled speakers and breakout sessions. For more information on the conference and speakers, click here.