Tuesday, April 26, 2016

An uncomfortable subject

By Alexis Archilla

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y, Did you know that on college campus’s, one in 5 women and one in

sixteen men are sexually assaulted? Sexual assault is one of the most important topics throughout

our society and it is simply ignored, due to the fact that it is an uncomfortable subject.

“The hope is to be completely transparent to how people are addressing issues on

campus. It’s important to get people to normalize the conversation about sex assualt, sexual

boundaries and how you can be part of a change” says Butterfly Blaise.

Blaise is the Title IX coordinator on campus. Receiving the position as deputy in

November of 2014, Blaise helped with investigations involving gender violence, stalking, dating

violence and of course sexual assault. Title IX makes sure that no person up held by or excluded

equal access under any institution that is receiving federal funding. Blaise is the backbone to

making sure nothing is violated in the code of conduct.

The privilege for working in a college is to model what positive engagement looks like.

Being a mother of six kids, Blaise gets to emulate what she does in her professional job and

transfer her expertise to educate her kids as mom. Someone that works closely to Blaise, is a

woman named Rhema Lewis.

Lewis is the Health Educator, Outreach coordinator and sexual assault advocate. Being

hired in January of 2012, “it’s three jobs in one.” Her job is to reach out to students, faculty and

community and engage in conversations like sexual violence prevention and sexual assault.

“It is a topic that we try to address head on” said Lewis.

In her position, Lewis really connects with University Police, the counseling center and health

center to keep people safe.

“As an advocate it is really important to be present every step of the way if you choose, I

see my job as a service to a student” said Lewis.

In terms of sexual violence education, there are a couple things she focuses as she spreads

light on meetings with students across campus. Definitions and resources are the two things she

tends to focus on.

As a sexual assault advocate, she tries to challenge students mentally so they know what

to do when thrown in a situation. The big question is “What are you doing in your life, that may

add a change to rape culture” said Lewis.

Jerry Lottie works close to Rhema and Butterfly as they to help those in need. As a chief

of police that has thirty years of experience, he does what he can to make sure this campus is safe

or all. His experience says it all, when dealing with sexual assault for fifteen years at SUNY

CANTON and another fifteen years here in Plattsburgh. Through his time, he’s been a lieutenant,

investigator assistant chief and now the chief of University Police.

As a chief the first step into helping someone that has been assaulted is believing the

reporter, he must then support and allow the reporter to make a decision for him or her. “We

don’t try to persuade them to go one way or another, we leave it up to the person to make a

choice to regain back their power and make them feel in control again” said Lottie. The chief

really goes through the process with caution whenever someone is assaulted.

Someone that has been motivated for a long time to help others understand and talk about

the topic more is Alexis Pascal. “I feel that it’s important to share my experience, so that others

know that things like this do happen on campus” said Pascal. Two years ago, she had been

through the toughest moment of her life.

“ This just made me a stronger person, I just try to be a role model for those that may

need help.”

Pascal currently works at a Planned Parenthood in Warwick N.Y, trying to lend a helping

hand for those in need. Being that this is her second year working she tries to emphasize the

importance and the steps to take whether you're a victim or a witness. “It’s really amazing to be

apart of an organization that I can connect to on a personal level” said Pascal.

Through everyone’s job title, all four individuals convey the most basic and ongoing

message, “That you're not alone”.

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