Published: April 27, 2010
With plates and glass in hand, University of Tampa students, faculty and
staff will be shattering the silence on Thursday, April 29.
is one of 10 colleges around the country, including Harvard and Brown
universities, selected as an official site of 10 Points of Light to Take
Back the Night. The event raises awareness and seeks an end to sexual
“I don’t see a reason for domestic violence,” said
Katelyn Soja ’11, a resident assistant. “It is something that makes me
angry when I hear about it.”
Soja serves on the executive board of UT’s
Residence Hall Association
, which is helping coordinate the event.
isn’t a lot of dialogue about it. At this age I feel the focus is more
on sexual health,” said Soja, who is majoring in advertising and public
relations. “But the more you can get people involved, the more we can
get the message out. No one is immune.”
Take Back the Night
event is free and open to the public. It starts in the Vaughn Courtyard
with a resource fair at 8 p.m. From there, participants will gather on
the Plant Hall verandah at 9 p.m. for the conclusion of the Spring Dance
Dancers will join Take Back the Night in a silent
march back to the Vaughn Courtyard to hear national college speakers,
and Tampa natives,
Kelly and Becca
, engage the audience with sexual assault awareness, prevention and sexual empowerment.
“I’m excited about it because I’ve heard they use humor to tackle this serious topic,” Soja said.
It is just one of the ways UT is involved in sexual assault awareness. Programming such as the
’s sexual health awareness week work to this affect. For two years the University has had a 24-hour
Victim’s Advocate Hotline
, (813) 257-3900.
where to turn after an assault can be intimidating for victims who
often look to their professors, said Kathryn Branch, assistant professor
in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Branch is
researching the impact of these disclosures on professors, who are
usually unprepared to handle such topics.
“I’ve read recently
that college students are more likely not to turn to the police for
help,” Branch said. “This is a new area but is critical because college
women are at risk for sexual violence more so than the women in the
In talking with other criminology professors
at other schools, she realized she wasn’t the only one. Last summer
Branch surveyed her colleagues involved in the American Society of
Criminology’s Division of Women in Crime. She found that not only were
students disclosing sexual assaults, more than half the time, students
were coming to their professors in crisis, crying.
happening,” Branch said. “The students are coming in crisis, they are
disclosing sexual assault to female professors and the professors aren’t
prepared to deal with it.
“You don’t leave those stories in the
office,” said Branch, who serves on the Sexual Violence Task Force of
Tampa Bay. “They are haunting.”
Branch is published in the April 2010 issue of the online journal,
Enhancing Learning in the Social Sciences
in a special issue dedicated to teaching sensitive topics. The article
shares her findings for the role strain professors deal with after
This semester, Branch and two colleagues from
Central Michigan University and the University of South Florida have
broadened the survey to include 360 faculty members from different
fields at their respective institutions. They are hoping to tabulate the
results this summer to get the prevalence rates for this kind of
disclosure to faculty.
Branch, who was involved in planning the
Tampa Take Back the Night event on April 17, said that many of the
survivors who spoke, male and female, said they told their stories to
the first person and then not again until years later because they were
blamed for the assault.
“How this secondary person responds
could shut down the victim’s story,” said Branch who is encouraged to
see the UT community participating in Take Back the Night. “It’s
important to speak out and say we won’t tolerate violence against the
women in our life. Until this isn’t tolerated, it won’t stop.”
Branch can be contacted at
. For more information on UT’s Take Back the Night event, contact the Office of Residence Life at (813) 253-6239 or
Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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