The event was led by Christi Hurt, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, and Rumay Alexander, special assistant to the Chancellor. Attendees discussed in both large and small groups issues surrounding sexual assault.
At the beginning of the conversation, Chancellor Carol Folt told the crowd there would be resources available at the event for those affected by the topic.
“I do know and all of us know that for some people this will be a particularly difficult conversation and we thank you for being here,” Folt said. “The courage everyone has to come to talk about this is something that actually matters a lot.”
Hurt said she has been an advocate of sexual violence prevention since her time as a UNC student working at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.
“When I was here tromping around in the ’90s, it would have been impossible, I suspect, to get this many people in the Union to talk about sexual violence,” Hurt said.
After giving an overview of the history of laws related to sexual violence and what Title IX is today, Hurt opened the floor for attendees to share their thoughts and experiences.
Students and staff in attendance discussed topics including methods of sexual assault prevention, the role of masculinity in society, UNC’s Haven program and Title IX’s regulations.
Sarah Dickson, a first-year graduate student seeking her master’s in public administration, said she has a little more hope after attending the event.
“I am really encouraged that this event exists and that there was a really good turn out and I think conversations like this help to break down barriers and that is how we learn,” Dickson said.
First-year Hunter Davis said he found the discussion to be meaningful as well.
“Some people don’t even know a really solid definition of what sexual assault is,” Davis said.
Sabrina Gamero, a Delta advocate within the UNC Panhellenic Council, said she was proud of the responses she heard from the room.
“I think that when you come to these conversations it’s a lot about resources on how to help a survivor after the fact — which is awesome and I totally support more resources like that — but I heard a lot about preventative work in our responses, I heard a lot about masculinity and patriarchy and the roots and causes of rape culture and I think that we don’t get to hear that a lot,” Gamero said.
Hurt reminded everyone that although significant work has been done to prevent sexual assault on campus, there is still tremendous work to do.
“We have miles to go before we sleep,” she said.