One Student Makes a Difference, Starting with UT

Published: Nov 30, 2010
 University of Tampa senior Jessica Fontaine is combating sexual assault across college campuses by arming students with the tools and programming needed to address the issue.

Fontaine ’11 is interning for a newly launched national nonprofit called One Student, which promotes the idea that one student can make a difference. She worked this summer helping organize this college-based initiative and since has joined One Student’s leadership program called the Florida Collegiate Consortium, a statewide campus alliance of nine colleges and universities.

“This was something I could dive into,” said Fontaine, a management and economics double major. “I know this was an important initiative, and it had a lot of room to grow with people who were very constructive.”

On the board of the consortium, Fontaine is working with three other interns from Florida universities to organize a state-wide campaign. This fall that has included informational programming with promotional-type pledges. It also involved filming an educational video that Fontaine suggested and helped host at UT.

“Unfortunately this is a topic no one wants to hear about or get involved with until it happens to them,” Fontaine said. “It’s reactionary.”

At UT, Fontaine has started another One Student program, a No Woman Left Behind chapter, which is a bystander intervention program. Fontaine said the chapter is working as an umbrella group for other UT events involving sexual assault awareness, like Take Back the Night and the Vagina Monologues, and with several of the Greek philanthropies. She said they are also planning a flash mob (random gathering of people organized via social media) in the spring called VIBE.

“I hope people become more comfortable talking about it instead of shoving it under the carpet,” Fontaine said. “I hope what qualifies as abuse and assault becomes more clearly defined because the gray area leads to more silence.”

One Student grew out of founders Kelly Addington and Becca Tieder’s decade of college campus presentations about their own experience with sexual violence. The two Tampa-based speakers have been to UT and count the school as a strong supporter of their mission. Administrators from UT have hosted them on campus and participate as advisory board members for One Student.

“UT has really been tremendous and has shown a commitment to address this issue year after year,” said Tieder. “I know UT wants their students to have a rich and meaningful experience, and the students are genuinely empowered to do good if they so choose.”

For Addington, this means taking the risk to be uncomfortable with friends and classmates.

“We want to inspire students to enact change,” said Addington. “We feel college student are the answer to creating a world where people are comfortable starting these conversations. This gives them a platform.”

Homepage image courtesy of Courtney Vickers Photography


Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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