Sixty people crowded into Ferris Lounge for the Allies for Sexual Assault Prevention’s (ASAP) “Speed Dating” event this past Thursday. The lively, raucous crowd circled five tables, each devoted to a different topic. At each station, two facilitators led discussions for 10 minutes and handed out treats and condoms, after which the groups moved clockwise to the next table. The event aimed to promote a culture of sex positivity on campus, as well as to inform and engage the Knox community.
With laughter, the occasional awkward silence and surprising candor, students discussed topics such as consent, queer culture, risk policy and parties and campus resources. Students came away from the event impressed.
Sophomore Christy Dye said, “It was a great thing to learn about. This was really positive event for ASAP and a really positive thing for campus.”
“We want to start conversations: planting the idea, get them thinking, talking to their friends about this stuff,” said senior Gabriel Paz, an ASAP member.
“Tonight wasn’t about telling [ASAP] about your sex stories; it’s about thinking about these issues and talking to your friends. Communication is key to preventing sexual assault,” said freshman Esther Farler-Westphal, Student Senate representative to ASAP.
ASAP members stressed the point was not just to talk about sexual assault, but a culture of sex positivity on campus. If there’s one thing Tianna Cervantez, Director of Multicultural Student Advisement, wanted students to take away, it was, “Sex can be good! As long as we’re communicating. We want to have a free-flowing, fun conversation.”
Cervantez facilitated a table focused on campus resources, including the Queer & Ally House, a 24/7 safe space on campus and the campus Health Services, highlighting its partnerships with the Family Planning Center of Western Illinois and Western Illinois Victim Services.
“Sexual assault awareness and prevention are always at the forefront. Unfortunately, we’re often not aware of resources until we need them,” Cervantez said. She also referred students to Assault Survivor Support at Knox (ASSK) a confidential support group for assault survivors.
At the table discussing parties and risk policy, Campus Safety Director John Schlaf urged students to make use of the student escort service. Between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Friday through Sunday, student Campus Safety workers are available to escort students “pretty much anywhere- within reason,” Schlaf said.
He also entreated students not to be afraid to call campus safety for fear of being disciplined for underage drinking.
“Our goal is your safety,” Schlaf said. “Safety workers will write up reports, but they do not hand out tickets.” The table also discussed planning a night out and keeping friends safe.
Both organizers and attendees were pleased with the event.
“I thought this was exceptionally well organized and a great forum for talking. It was very comfortable, and all the facilitators did a really nice job,” senior Britt Anderson said.
“The event went well…it sounded like everyone had a lot of fun,” Farler-Westphal said.
Paz did note the relative dearth of male students.
“I think I saw about four guys. I mean, come on. Maybe if there’s a whole event devoted to it and so many people are coming out to learn about it, just maybe, you could learn something, too,” he said, addressing the men of the Knox community.
Allies for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP) brings together campus organizations, including Student Senate, Student Health Advocacy Group, Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, Students Against Sexism in Society and Common Ground, faculty from the Student Life Committee and the Office of Student Development and Schlaf.