Western State Colorado University Leads Charge Against Sexual Assault
GUNNISON, CO - Western State Colorado University is leading the charge against sexual assault on university campuses along with four other colleges, forming a national movement that will work to prevent sexual assault and rape and encourage awareness among college students. The group of five colleges, called PACT5 (Pact5.org), is a grassroots movement launching a campaign this fall in conjunction with the Clery Center for Security on Campus and the Wyncote Foundation.
The student and faculty-driven campaign began in the documentary production classes of five universities across the nation. Dedicated to stopping rape and sexual assault in colleges, PACT5 participants believe that short documentaries, produced by students, will tell powerful stories that can change potentially tragic behavior patterns. The ultimate goal of the movement, besides stopping sexual assault and rape at the participating universities, is to get all institutions of higher education to join the PACT.
“The opportunity to work on the PACT5 project fits in so perfectly with my desire to educate, to inspire, and to turn victims to victors,” says Western State Colorado University sophomore Abi Rike. Rike, who is majoring in sociology and minoring in communication arts, plays a major role in the film’s production. “I have made it my life's purpose to effect that change, and this has been an amazing opportunity to work with others who share that purpose, and to hopefully produce some of the first pieces of film and literature that will grow this movement.”
Western’s documentary has been integrated into new student orientation this fall. The film has already had an impact on campus. The hybrid film, both documentary and narrative, is based on several lifelike vignettes that focus on victim blaming. The film’s student producers hosted an evening event in the spring semester attended by over 200 members of the campus community, including 90% of all student athletes, coaches and many administrators.
“The timing of this campaign is really important,” says Western State Colorado University Vice President for Student Affairs Gary Pierson. “We here at Western want to be as proactive as we can be year round, but especially at the beginning of the school year. We are committed to providing our students a safe learning environment, and elevating this conversation about sexual assault plays an important role in addressing a problem faced by nearly every university across the country.”
The other universities that make up the PACT5 include California State University, Northern Illinois University, Framingham State University, and Rowan University. The PACT5 institutions are partnering with the Clery Center for Security on Campus, which will work to share the PACT5 message nationally. Initial funding for the project came from the Wyncote Foundation.
“This has been a powerful and moving experience for both students, faculty and campus community. We hope it makes a difference.” says Western State Colorado University film studies professor Jack Lucido, who is also an Emmy-nominated film maker. “These documentaries will become educational tools for all areas of college life, including orientations, residence advising, campus police, fraternities, sororities, counseling centers, rehab centers, and hospitals,”
The project has involved seven documentary teachers and over 100 students from 5 universities. Participants believe in the power of student storytellers communicating with their fellow students to make a difference.
“Documentaries give students a voice that other students can see, hear, and relate to,” professor Lucido says.
“I joined this project to become a part of this important issue,” says Western junior Christie Henson. “Ending sexual assault is important and victims need to be heard. It needs to be stopped.”
To learn more about PACT5 and to view the videos from all 5 universities, visit PACT5.org.