A look back at this one of a kind Welcome Week Event
By Anna Dorl and Morgan Barclay
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25 August 2018
With one in five women experiencing sexual violence in college and one in 33 men at some point in their lives, sexual violence is an epidemic in America.
Every year during Welcome Week, First Lady Rosemary Trible hosts Be the Change, a night of sexual violence education for the incoming freshman class. This year, the evening included a screening of her documentary film, “Be the Change,” and a panel which discussed the issue of sexual assault as it pertains to CNU.
The event is required attendance for every freshman at the beginning of their first year at CNU, along with the completion of the online programs Alcohol Edu and Sexual Assault Prevention for Undergraduates (SAPU). Be the Change and the accompanying online modules stress the importance of consent, bystander intervention, and CNU’s community of mutual respect.
“We change the world one person at a time, and it begins with us,” President Paul Trible began, addressing the class of 2022 before the First Lady took the stage. “This must end.”
Mrs. Trible echoed these sentiments in her own address to the incoming class, “Tonight is about letting go of fear, becoming more aware, and being willing to care for and respect one another.” Sharing her Emmy winning film, “Be the Change,” she made clear the role each student plays in combating sexual assault.
Covering both sexual violence on college campuses and the outreach of Mrs. Trible’s global nonprofit organization, Fear 2 Freedom, the documentary drew upon personal stories from Virginia college students and showed that sexual assault can affect anyone, male or female, at any age, at any time, anywhere.
The Tribles take this matter very seriously. After Mrs. Trible’s assault when she was in her twenties, she and her husband experienced firsthand the lasting effects and the trauma of sexual violence. “A man who rapes you wants to destroy you not for a night, but a lifetime,” she says. “And they plant that dagger of fear and guilt and shame deep, deep within your heart. He not only tore my body, but this man, he stole my joy. But I realized, if I let this destroy me, he wins. And yet every day, every moment that I can find some joy in my life, I win.”
Mrs. Trible, wanting to turn her past pain into something positive, eventually founded her nonprofit organization, Fear 2 Freedom, the “2” representing the fact that every two minutes, someone is assaulted in the United States. Mrs. Trible says her organization’s goal is to “restore dignity and hope to those who have been sexually assaulted and to empower students… and communities to combat sexual violence; yes, to be the change.” This organization has worked closely with CNU students since its inception and will continue to do so in the coming year, with two other events already planned for CNU’s campus this upcoming school year.
The event then continued with a panel of administrators and students, specifying the resources students at CNU have available to them and making clear the role each CNU student has in combating sexual assault. The panel featured Michelle Moody, the Director of Title IX and Equal Opportunity, Mary Frances Parrish, a licensed counselor at CNU, and student leaders Hunter Bonton and Cat Boyle.
Moody encouraged the freshman class to look out for one another. “No Captain left behind. It’s Captains looking out for Captains. We are a family and we are a community, so I challenge you to embrace the opportunity that you have to be the change.”
“No Captain Left Behind. It’s Captains looking out for Captains.” –Michelle Moody
Bonton agreed stating, “We are a unique school and community that we can’t put into words. It feels like home. Use that to your advantage. Make sure survivors feel welcome here.”
Ending the night, Bonton and Boyle asked the entire incoming class to stand and pledge to end sexual assault, providing a visual marker for the entire incoming class to see the University’s stance on supporting survivors and ending sexual violence.
Students leaving the event mentioned its effects. “The event was inspirational and definitely very helpful,” incoming freshman Leona Comstock stated. Talking with Lizzie Lewis, a Resident Assistant in Warwick River Hall, she went further stating that, “the event really shows that we all have a part to play in doing something. It’s more than just awareness of the issue.” Where some schools stop at just education, CNU has made a clear call to action.
If you or someone you know are dealing with the effects of sexual assault and need help, CNU is here for you.
CNUPD: (757) 594-7777
Title IX: (757) 594-8819
Counseling Services: (757) 594-7047