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Sexual Aggression Expert to Speak
September 21, 2006

Steve Thompson, a nationally recognized expert on sexual aggression, will speak on that topic in a variety of sessions at Calvin College on Thursday, September 28.

"He will be helping us to address and challenge not just the women, but the men in our community on these issues, which is the approach we want to take," says Anamarie Joosse, a member of the Calvin's Sexual Assault Prevention Team, which is sponsoring the event. "We want to empower the Calvin community to be both safe and respectful."

Thompson—the sexual assault services coordinator at Central Michigan University and the author of the rape prevention book No More Fear—will first address the faculty from noon to 1 p.m. in the faculty meeting room of the Commons Annex on the topic "Sexual Aggression and Today’s Students: What faculty need to know."

"We want the faculty to be aware that rape and other forms of sexual aggression occur here just like as they do in society," Joosse says. "We want them to feel more confident about how to respond when students open up to them. We want them to be aware of referral sources, and we want them to join us in helping to educate our students in healthy relationships."

From 1:30 through 3 p.m. in the college's Meeter Center Lecture Hall, Thompson will address Calvin staff on "Workplace Violence," suggesting ways to create a safer working environment.

In "Hostile Hallways," Thompson's third session, held from 4 to 5 p.m. in Science Building 010, he will talk about how sexual assault, harassment, stalking and dating violence are affecting today's children and youth.

That session, sponsored by the Calvin education department and the student group Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, is geared toward Calvin's future teachers.

"The education department is concerned about this issue, and they are asking all their student teachers to come to that presentation," Joosse says “Domestic violence in a marriage situation usually starts during the courtship process. Teachers can help to educate students who might be falling into destructive relationships."

From 8 to 9 p.m. in the Calvin chapel, Thompson will speak to the entire Calvin community in his final session, "No Zebras—No Excuses: Dating, Sex and Community at Calvin."

The title of the talk, Joosse says, refers to zebras who become potential victims when they become separated from the herd.

Thompson urges communities of all kinds to form a strong, united "herd" against sexual aggression, she says, and the goal for the final session is to educate on the many ways both men and women can make Calvin a safer place to live and work.

Among other topics, Joosse said, Thomson will emphasize male attitudes, expressed through "humor" or looking the other way when faced with sexual aggression toward women.

"We want to empower men to be part of the solution," she says.

The Sexual Assault Prevention Team—composed of to two counselors from the Broene Center, two resident directors from the Student Life, a nurse practitioner in health services, four students and the supervisor of self defense in the Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance and Sport department—creates programs to heighten awareness of sexual assault and promote prevention of sexual violence.

"We're hoping that this will provoke a conversation about respect," Joosse says about the Thompson events. The more respectful men and women are in their interaction with each other, the less we're going to see victimization of any type, whether it's sexual harassment, sexual assault or dating violence."

~written by communications and marketing staff writer Myrna Anderson