RespectCon 2013, Denim Day address sexual assault issues

By Kimber Williams | Emory Report | April 2, 2013

RespectCon 2013, an inaugural conference focusing on social justice and the prevention of sexual assault and violence in school settings, will be hosted by Emory's Respect Program on April 12 at the Dobbs University Center (DUC).  

Scheduled to take place during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the conference marks the first of its kind for the Respect Program, which strives to engage the Emory community to prevent and respond to sexual assault and relationship violence.  

The impetus for hosting a conference stems back to last year, when the recently renamed program embraced a new identity and a renewed focus, explained Lauren Bernstein, assistant director for the Respect Program in the Office of Health Promotion.  

"We felt that this was a great year to have a conference dedicated to the intersections of sexual assault prevention on campus and social justice," Bernstein says.  

"There is a lot of focus right now nationally on policy, which is critical as well. But we wanted to create a space to showcase prevention initiatives, collaborative work, social justice, creativity, and student engagement," she explains.  

National statistics indicate that one in four women and one in 33 men will experience sexual assault sometime during their college years, according to Bernstein.  

As a best practice program, Respect receives "inquiries from around the country to provide technical assistance and training, and we wanted to provide a venue for idea-sharing and showcasing Emory's work and that of our colleagues," Bernstein says.  

"We wanted to engage Emory's campus and beyond in creating culture change," she adds.  

The inaugural conference is expected to draw between 75 and 100 attendees from around the country with topics that include:  

  • How can we prevent sexual violence on college campuses?

  • Engaging men in sexual violence prevention

  • Creating partnerships to end sexual violence 

  • Innovations in bystander intervention 

  • Student leadership in creating a survivor supportive campus

  • Sexual violence in the media 

  • Integrating alcohol abuse and sexual violence prevention 

  • Engaging Greek lettered organizations in sexual assault prevention. 

In keeping with the Respect Program's commitment to fostering student engagement, "Emory undergraduate and graduate students are at the center of our work and of this conference," Bernstein notes.  

Emory students have been involved at every stage of planning and implementation of the conference, she adds, including roles as presenters, facilitators, volunteers, and conference developers. "They also played a key role in selecting sessions that would be relevant to student activism."  

"We are hoping to continue to establish best practice in student, staff, and faculty collaboration to use our respective roles to end sexual violence, support survivors, and create a healthy and socially just community," she says.  

On April 12, RespectCon will run 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the DUC. Registration fees, which cover admission and lunch, are $20 for Emory students, $40 for non-Emory students, and $50 for other attendees. Scholarships are available for undergraduate and graduate students for whom the fee would be a financial hardship. Advance registration is strongly encouraged.

Help and support  

If you have been affected by sexual assault or relationship violence, you have support at Emory. Undergraduate and graduate students can contact the Respect Program at 404-727-1514 and faculty and staff can contact the Faculty Staff Assistance Program at 404-727-4328.