By Carina Sorrentino
This fall, Union announced its participation in the “It’s On Us” initiative, pledging itself to take preventative measures in regards to sexual assault. All Union students were invited to sign an online pledge vowing to “help keep men and women safe on college campuses.”
This national campaign inspired a symphony of events on campus in the fall, in which multiple organizations took time to educate their peers on the stigmas and misconceptions surrounding the topic of sexual assault.
This term, Union administrators have become workshop trainers for the “Green Dot bystander intervention program.” This initiative “provides a comprehensive approach to violence prevention, capitalizing on the power of peer and cultural influence across all levels.”
Some may have noticed these upcoming changes in an email from the administration; however the Concordiensis sought out the newest addition to the Union staff, Sarah Adelmann.
In order to keep momentum in its commitment to safety, Union has recently hired Adelmann as a violence awareness educator. New to campus this term, Adelmann will be interacting with students in order to “design and implement sexual misconduct prevention and awareness programs.” She will also “oversee a comprehensive strategic plan, as well as review the judicial process.”
Adelmann completed her undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech, and then went on to complete her masters in counseling at Salem State and then Boston College. She has been specializing in empathy work and is in the process of getting a certification for dealing with trauma.
After seven years of being a special education teacher and advocating for students’ educational rights, Adelmann found herself being drawn back to a focus in mental health, particularly within the topic of loss.
While many correlate loss with death, Adelmann explained that in her time working as a grief counselor she was particularly concerned with the “loss of identity” that can manifest in victims of sexual assault.
“I have been doing this work for multiple years,” Adelmann stated, “and now I want to bring that knowledge to this campus to educate the community on how to interact with survivors.”
While Adelmann is highly qualified to interact with victims of sexual assault or violence, her primary mission is to develop preventative measures in regards to the issue.
When questioned about the effectiveness of the “It’s On Us” pledge, Adelmann remarked, “I don’t think it’s the answer but it is a piece of the puzzle towards moving forward. Anything that gets people talking on college campuses about the issue of sexual assault and connects with the students on a social media basis is a way to get the ball rolling.”
“One of the big things I want to bring is a more proactive approach so that we are not just looking at problems after they happen, but rather making sure that they do not happen,” she remarked.
Over the next few months, students can expect to receive surveys in order to gauge the awareness of options for those who have been victims of sexual assault and sexual misconduct policies at the college.
Bystander intervention programs will be held in order to educate students, but they will also be run with the help of student input.
Part of solving the problem is figuring out from faculty and students what they really think is happening on campus. “I want to help make changes, and I want to know how students and faculty would like to see those changes,” Adelmann stated.
Adelmann is looking forward to meeting students and getting the most real idea of the climate on campus. The more students who participate and talk, the greater the opportunity for change to be made.
“You can have administrators and faculty talking a lot about change,” Adelmann explained, “but the students know what is really happening. I want them to feel comfortable with me to open up, so that we can make steps towards solving this problem.”
Adelmann hopes to interact with students face-to-face, not just through surveys.
“If I want to change the climate of the campus, I can’t do it alone,” she remarked. “I want to grab coffee with students and sit down and talk. I am open, and my door is open. My goal is not just to create a program for you, but with you.”