MSU SARV Peer Educators Attend Statewide Conference

May 13, 2016

It can be rare for Spartans to step into enemy territory, but not when they’re uniting with universities across the state to work toward a better future.

This was the case on April 2, 2016, when the MSU Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Prevention Program (SARV) educators attended “Activating Our Campus: A collective of anti-violence student activists” at the Michigan Union in Ann Arbor.

 The collective, hosted by the University of Michigan’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC), aimed to provide college student groups from around Michigan a platform to network and inspire each other to improve violence prevention programs on Michigan’s college campuses. It was the first conference of its kind on the campus. 

Sierra Peterson, a third-year SARV peer educator and 2016 graduate of the MSU School of Social Work, said she found it interesting to compare the different violence prevention programs in attendance and consider ways MSU SARV could improve its practice.

“I think that it definitely made us feel more of a bond,” Petersen said. “It made us want to talk more about what we want to do for our program and for MSU. It made a lot of the SARV peer educators feel empowered.

“It’s not often that we feel like we have a voice. Sometimes it feels like we’re doing a job that we’re trained to do, but as a student, inherently, we have the power to change what we want and to shape our campus. I think it was really nice to step back and to think, ‘I, as an individual, have the power to change the world.’”

According to Petersen, MSU SARV’s primary role at MSU is to host workshops for incoming freshman that educate them about sexual assault and relationship violence and prevention, and point them to resources available on campus.

Petersen will be attending the University of Chicago in the fall to further her work in sexual assault prevention. She said that the conference at U of M consisted of networking opportunities, fruitful student-lead workshops, brainstorming sessions, and inspirational guest speakers.

 Alex Sylvester, SARV coordinator, said that they thought the program was a great success. Sylvester voiced pride in seeing that MSU’s sexual assault prevention force is already doing a lot of innovative things, but that one area where it can continue to improve in is the intersections between sexual assault and marginalized groups on campus.

“There were a lot of candid discussions about intersections between sexual assault and race, [as well as] sexual assault and international student identity,” Sylvester said. “I think that although SARV pushes itself to work on those things, there’s always room for improvement. I was excited to see folks engage with those topics in new ways.”

People interested in becoming involved with MSU SARV for the 2016-2017 school year, can contact Alex Sylvester at sylves47@msu.edu.

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