Remarks from the 26th Annual Walk for Awareness

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

26th Annual Walk for Awareness
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Sanford Mall and Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts, on the campus of Appalachian State University

Remarks by Sheri N. Everts, Chancellor

Good Evening. Tonight, as we gather to remember and honor those whose lives were forever changed by interpersonal violence, we also walk together giving a symbolic voice of commitment to the work we must continue as a community.

Over the past year, our campus conversation directed the responsibility for interpersonal violence toward the offenders. This campus joined me in proclaiming that those who perpetrate shameful acts of violence and who are not willing to live by a code of mutual consent, respect and concern are not welcome in the community of Mountaineers.

Students, staff and faculty took decisive action - choosing not to be bystanders, but to actively engage in how we educate ourselves and provide resources for our community. At last year’s walk, I shared our campus’ commitment to increased education: education that is central to our work in helping ensure a healthier and safer community. I am very proud to share that almost eight hundred faculty and staff supervisors have participated in in-person sexual assault/interpersonal violence prevention training. This semester, and moving forward, new supervisors will receive this prevention training and all supervisors will participate in ongoing education.

More than three thousand three hundred students have participated in online or in-person sexual assault prevention training. These are two of the many examples of what we accomplished last year. Other programs that educate about interpersonal violence and raise awareness of resources have been expanded and strengthened as well. We have increased the hours for counseling available on campus and strengthened our work with wellness and prevention.

The Interpersonal Violence Council facilitated our campus education program and served as a conduit for students, faculty and staff to provide their invaluable input on how we can continue to move forward together. Many of you here tonight have been a part of the important work taking place on our campus over the past year. Whether you worked with the council or other groups, helped raise awareness, participated in work on policies and procedures, volunteered with agencies or chose to not stand by when you saw someone in need, I thank you for your commitment to making a difference on our campus and beyond.

Whether you are a new member of the Appalachian community, or have been part of our campus for some time, let us all commit to being active in the prevention of interpersonal violence on our campus. Particularly during these first few weeks of the semester we must be vigilant in our awareness and understanding of sexual assault. We must recognize signs of drug or alcohol abuse. Simply listening can also lead to the early recognition of issues such as depression. The responsibility for caring for one another is great, but it is not difficult. At these critical times, people need to know they aren’t alone. It is also important for you who want to help to remember that you are not alone. You don’t have to have all the answers. Our campus has many dedicated people and excellent resources to assist when we need it.

As we move from this place in silence, I encourage us to find strength in the hope represented by our unity and resolve. Our silence gives voice to those who need healing, respect, acknowledgement, support and compassion - and sends a clear message that our community cares and is committed to action.

I thank you for your commitment to a safe and healthy Appalachian for all.