Sexual assault discussion on campus, a resource for students


Sam Boggs

The program also offered resources to students in case of assault.

Ariel Themm, Staff Reporter

The smell of fresh chocolate chip cookies wafts from room 208 in Oak View Hall as Hot Cookies, Hot Topics began setting up. Every month, Travis Gibler and Jackie Duc host this program to encourage student-led discussions over controversial topics.

Gibler, the residence director of the small halls, started this program last year. Duc, a graduate residence director for the apartments on campus, assists in preparing the meetings with Gibler.

“Our typical format is to prepare background knowledge, usually with videos, to show students before students are given time to openly discuss their opinions over the topic at hand,” Duc said.

On Nov. 30th, the topic was the way sexual assault is portrayed in the media. Considering the highly sensitive topic at hand, Mike Wattsworth, the assistant dean of students, attended the program as well as the Director of  the counseling center, Dr. David Schwartz and a member of his staff, Dr. Laura Sanders.

Sitting around the tables, students quietly listened to the videos being played. Each video was set in chronological order, from older cases to the newer cases.

Videos covered cases such as Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia University student, who carried her mattress with her everywhere to protest the university’s handling of her rape in 2015. Another case reviewed was the Brock Turner case, where a Stanford student raped an unconscious girl behind a dumpster and was released early from his six-month sentence for “good behavior.”

There were also mentions of Taylor Swift’s win in court over her assailant, as well as actresses coming forward against Harvey Weinstein and reports against Kevin Spacey.

Freshman Timia Henry at OU, has attended all the meetings this year. Henry expressed her feelings about these assaults as well as how they’re handled.

“It’s not taken care of well, people aren’t taking it as seriously as they should,” Henry said. “We put blinders on as we look out. Media shouldn’t focus on the accused. There’s someone who has been wronged and it doesn’t matter who they are and what they’ve done, no one deserves to be put through that.”

OU faculty that attended the meeting also extended further information on what resources are offered and what is required of them. In April 2011, the Office of Civil Rights added specific details to what was expected from employees working in the school system according to the law Title IX.

If a student informs any faculty of any misconduct involving other students, the employee must report it to the university, and the university is required to act in some appropriate way. This does not mean that an investigation has to be carried out if that is not the victim’s wish but the school has to settle the issue in some manner.

This can happen by seeking counseling appointments at the Graham Health Center or working with the Dean of Students to change residence halls, schedulesanything for the victim to feel comfortable at OU.

Students from the meeting shared thoughts of taking away stigma from sharing assaults, victim shaming, the way feminism is viewed and more. More discussions will be held in the future and can be found on posters around the residence halls or on the OU Housing Webpage.