Revised notes: June 2-PAC report

From Emilie: When I looked at my notes after the June 2-PAC presentation by Bronte Stewart-New (Aurora Center, U of MN) I realized that some of my notes did not make a logical story.  I send every speaker a copy of my draft to edit and correct before I send it out.  To my regret, Ms Stewart-New didn’t have time to proof the notes and, deadline at hand, I decided to send out what I had.  I covered some of the gaps with bracketed comments, but my comments bothered one person who took the trouble to let me know what was wrong.  I’m grateful she did so.  A second request to the Aurora Center yielded the corrections I needed.  “Thank you” to the staff there.

I’d asked for more numbers and information about that survey cited in the presentation.  Here’s a clearer  explanation of the numbers from Ms Stewart-New:

“…The survey regarding the statistics we discussed was promoted to a randomly selected group (5,900) of students. The response rate from that randomly selected pool was 34%. Incentives to complete the survey included being entered into drawings for Amazon gift cards. I have included a link to the report here: 2015 College Health Survey. The survey covered various aspects of an individual’s health and safety, not sexual violence alone.

“The 2015 Association of American Universities (AAU) Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct provided the breakdown of reported sexual violence by sexual orientation, gender identity (including trans and non-binary folks), and ethnicity. Read there executive summary here: AAU 2015 Executive Summary
“Again, sexual violence is prevelent in any community, regardless of age, gender, or race. Please reach out to Sexual Violence Center or Casa de Esperanza to gain a broader understanding of violence in our communities.”


[And my amended notes]

Leading off a series of presentations on support services available in Minneapolis to victims of assault, Bronte Stewart-New, Legal Advocacy Coordinator described the services available from the Aurora Center, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. The Aurora Center works with victims/survivors and concerned persons of relationship violence, sexual assault and stalking. Aurora provides free and confidential services to students, faculty and staff at UMN and Augsburg College.

The Aurora Center currently has 7 full time staff, 5 student staff, and around 60-100 student volunteers.  Ms. Stewart-New has volunteered 4 years with The Aurora Center and was hired early in 2017.

Advocacy begins with immediate emotional support to victim/survivors.  Advocates help clients avoid re-victimization (insuring fair treatment), and to coordinate local campus and community resources and programs.  The Aurora program is free and confidential, and provides services to victims/survivors and concerned persons. Advocates do not make decisions for a client, but carefully lay out options so the client is able to mindfully make their own fully informed decisions.

Once a person decides to seek help, The Aurora Center provides a 24 hour helpline staffed by volunteers and staff.  Aurora provides crisis counseling, support groups, and a substantial menu of advocacy services, not limited to dealing with academic impact, helping with housing, assisting with medical care, supporting a victim during police and university interviews, and helping with legal matters like obtaining restraining orders.

The first step toward reducing the incidence of sexual assaults on campus is to clearly define terms and policies. The U of MN defines sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship violence, harm, stalking, and consent.

  • Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances that are presented as a condition of employment or academic advancement, or which have the effect of interfering with an individual’s performance, or which it creates a hostile or offensive environment in any University event.

  • Sexual assault is actual, attempted or threatened sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent.  This includes but is not limited to intercourse. Rape is sexual intercourse without freely given consent.

  • Relationship violence is causing physical harm, or threats of physical harm that rise in a personal, intimate relationship.

  • Stalking is behavior directed at a specific person that is unwanted and which would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.  At the U of MN, the focus is on the impact on the targeted person, not the intent of the doer.

  • Consent is informed, freely and affirmatively communicated willingness to engage in sexual activity, expressed in clear and unambiguous words or actions.

According to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities 2015 College Student Health Survey conducted by Boynton Health Services where 34% of students contacted responded to the survey, the prevalence of sexual assault and domestic violence reported by U of MN enrolled students, not limited to assault while enrolled was:

1) 24% reported being sexually assaulted in their lifetime. 11% of males and 32 % of females

2) 19% reported domestic violence in their lifetime. 12% of males and 23% of females.

3) 11% of students self-reported that they had perpetrated sexual assault.

The survey also looked at reports of sexual assault since enrollment:

1) 6% of males reported assault during the last 12 months 
2) 23% of females reported assault during the last 12 months
3) 34% of LGBT or gender-non-conforming students reported assault during the last 12 months.

People of color and the LGBTQ community ALSO experience sexual assault and relationship violence. Specifically transgender people of color experience domestic violence and sexual assault at disproportionate rates than individuals who are not transgender.

Additionally, the number of students w/ disabilities reporting assault were almost twice the number of students who do not have disabilities, 21% v. 11%.

Finally, when the report was sorted by race/ethnicity, another picture emerged: 7% of reporters were Asian, 11.1% were Pacific Islander, 11;5% were black or African American, 12.8% white, 14.9% Hispanic, 21.7% were Native American or Alaska Native.

Support is available through The Aurora Center (612.626.9111), through Boynton Mental Health Services (which also has a 24-hour crisis line at 612.301.4673), or from Student Counseling Services.  

The Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action office is the university Title IX office where people can report sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, and sexual harassment. Another reporting option is to report to the police (Emergency is a 911 call and non-emergency is 612.624.COPS 624.2677 for UMN campus). Those two reporting options are not exclusive of one another. Any victim can do one or the other, both, or none.


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