Thousands of activists will descend on Fordham’s Rose Hill campus July 10 for the inaugural International Summit to End Sexual Violence, a nonprofit project run under the auspices of the Take Back The Night Foundation and sponsored by Fordham.
The two-day event will feature more than 100 presenters and performers taking a collective stand against sexual violence of all kinds, including dating violence, campus sexual assault, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and trafficking.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to sponsor another effort toward prevention of and education about sexual violence,” said Michele Burris, associate vice president of student affairs.
“Hosting the summit is also recognition from Take Back The Night of the strong work we’re doing in the area of sexual assault and misconduct.”
The aim of the summit—which will convene organizations and leaders in fields including education, business, counseling, healthcare, military, politics, and entertainment—is to unite diverse perspectives and backgrounds to address the problem, starting with developing a common vocabulary and understanding of sexual violence.
Keynote speakers include Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International; Katie Koestner, founder of Take Back The Night, who appeared on the cover of TIME Magazine 25 years ago as the first college student to speak out as a the victim of date rape; and Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
Participants will learn the laws and policies related to sexual violence, social media techniques for campaigns and fundraising, how to mobilize communities, and how to host vigils, speak-outs, and other events to support survivors. A “Going NOISY Celebrity SoundOff” in Fordham Prep’s Leonard Theatre will feature performances by musicians, actors, and other artists.
In addition, more than a dozen trauma-informed yoga instructors will kick off the second day of the summit with “Yoga for Strength and Healing” on Edwards Parade.
Fordham’s Stand Against Sexual Violence
The collaboration between Fordham and Take Back The Night Foundation has grown out of the University’s ongoing work to combat sexual misconduct, Burris said. Last year, Fordham was selected as one of 10 Points of Light around the country during the national observance of Take Back The Night—an event featuring survivor stories, candlelight vigils, and other effort to raise awareness about sexual assault.
The previous year, Fordham hosted a conference on campus sexual misconduct policies to train both Fordham and non-Fordham educators on how to deal with sexual misconduct.
“We are constantly working to educate students as well as faculty and staff when it comes to preventing sexual assault, reporting violence, and what to do when you see something or you yourself experience something like this,” Burris said.
A key aspect of this work, said Burris, is to regularly update the University’s policies and procedures to comply with evolving state and federal laws. As part of this structure, Campus Ministry and Counseling and Psychological Services serve as confidential reporting centers for anyone who experiences violence of any kind. The Health Center has several trained sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) on staff to offer medical support and resources to victims of assault.
Most importantly, Burris said, an administrative support person is assigned to every reported case of sexual misconduct. The point persons—one for the victim and one for the accuser—help guide each party involved through the process.
“The day the person says something, there is an administrator assigned to them to help them understand how the process works and how to report it, to go with them to every meeting, to connect them with counseling and health services, and to work with the academic deans in case they need to miss classes,” Burris said.
“There is a team of people in place to help the student get through this. That’s the number one thing—the student needs to feel supported throughout.”
For more information and to register for the International Summit to End Sexual Violence, visit the official website.