Last week, Ashley Blamey, the University of Tennessee’s Office of Title IX coordinator spoke with local communication professionals, addressing the roles and responsibilities of her office. Additionally, she stressed that the way people communicate with each other will determine what kind of community UT is and will be.
“We have this idea of ‘one’. One campus, one community, one institution. But ultimately one person, one student…what is our responsibility to them and what is our responsibility to the whole,” Blamey said.
In addition, Blamey played a clip from a TED talk presented by Jackson Katz about violence towards women. In the talk, Katz discusses how women are not purely to blame for sexual assault and harassment. Similarly, Blamey uses this to argue that people often ask the wrong questions when sexual misconduct occurs.
Afterward, she began a hypothetical discussion about if she were to punch someone, gauging reactions and responses from the audience:
“What about looking at the person next to you and asking, ‘did you see that?'” she said.
She continued this by expressing that trusting friends for help and support can combat sexual misconduct. Would the person who was punched be to blame for being punched in her scenario? That person was in a place where they let their guard down. They felt safe. Similarly, there is a trust factor based off of being in a secure environment with someone they know. In fact, only 19.5 percent of sexual assaults are committed by a stranger.
Furthermore, Blamey uses this to show how her office works to combat similar scenarios. The biggest method is making dorm employees aware of signs to look for when someone comes into their building. They learn to identify who might be a victim or who might become a victim. Another method is posting signs in the elevators leading to the dorm rooms with catchphrases about consent. The catchphrases serve to remind both parties to be careful.
Blamey briefly discussed the significance of how Pat Summit contributed to the advancement of Title IX:
“I think we have a lot to be proud of as a state because while Pat Summit is a very clearly beloved figure of our society, the work that she did moved Title IX forward on a national level, and the work she did on the institution was remarkable.”
Edited by Ciera Noe and Kaitlin Flippo
Featured image courtesy of Creative Commons