Joliet, Ill. – Last month, the University of St. Francis (USF) Criminal and Social Justice Department and Office of Institutional Diversity welcomed guest speaker and sexual assault survivor Tim Mousseau to campus for a special presentation of “Retaking Our Story: Reframing the Sexual Assault Conversation.” The university’s San Damiano Hall was filled with students, faculty members, staff and administrators to hear Mousseau’s message of how communities can create a culture of compassion while realistically facing an issue prevalent on college campuses across the country.

“I was glad to have Tim here to bring such a powerful and important message to the USF community. Students were captivated and I think his message will carry lasting change,” said Stacy Dewald, Ph.D., USF professor of criminal and social justice.

Allison Heard, USF’s director of institutional diversity and Title IX coordinator, felt that Mousseau’s action-based approach was one that resonated with everyone in attendance at the event.

“The best part about having Tim speak on campus was that he did not simply quote statistics and leave them sitting with you.  He discussed applicable strategies and skills that we can all employ to keep others and ourselves safe.  He also personalized the topic so we remember that this is not a ‘men vs. women’ issue or an ‘us vs. them’ issue.  This is everyone’s issue to solve and remedy so we can thrive as a healthy community,” she said.

Heard added that, along with the presentation aligning well with the university’s Franciscan values of respect, integrity, service, and compassion, it also stressed the importance and impact of advocating for others affected by sexual assault.

“We hear about assaults on the evening news and we see information on social media, TV networks, and hear about things which occur in our own communities.  However, when you are educated about the fact that most cases of sexual assault and gender-based violence are perpetrated by people who are acquaintances rather than strangers, it can change one’s perspective,” Heard said.

“Statistically, we know that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 college-age men will be impacted by sexual assault in their lifetime.  To hear this statistic is one thing but to sit in a room where there are four women and six men and to look around and wonder who has or will be impacted by this horrible reality is quite scary. To know that all it takes is for one person to stand up and be an advocate for someone else is a powerful feeling,” Heard added.

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

(image caption – The University of St. Francis Criminal and Social Justice Department and Office of Institutional Diversity welcomed guest speaker and sexual assault survivor Tim Mousseau to campus for a special presentation of “Retaking Our Story: Reframing the Sexual Assault Conversation” in November. Photo credit – Damon Sloan)

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