Panhellenic Pride Week addresses effects of sexual abuse

By Erika Strebel

As part of Panhellenic Pride Week, award-winning director, model and actress Angela Shelton gave a presentation on the emotional effects of sexual abuse Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Foellinger Auditorium.

She had the lights turned on so that she could see the people packed in nearly every row of the auditorium and instructed them to stand up.

“I want you to look around at friends and check them out,” she said, “Because every person in this room has a story. You are not alone.”

Her presentation included a showing of a one-hour version of her documentary “Finding Angela Shelton.”

After, she shared ways for victims of sexual abuse to express their anger and learn to create a positive self-image.

She said that expressing anger was OK, despite the pressure current society places on people to suppress their emotions.

She then began to beat a chair with a red, $4.99 bat as she yelled and screamed.

“She was really original,” Steffen Olsen, junior in LAS, said. “This issue is really sensitive, but she wasn’t afraid of saying anything. It was really inspiring.”

Shelton’s visit also included a survival workshop at A Woman’s Fund, Inc. Rape Crisis Services, 310 W. Church St., Tuesday night, and a workshop Wednesday afternoon that focused on Greek men and women.

Former Panhellenic Council Vice President Kimberley Verest, senior in Communications, said the Panhellenic Council’s previous officers suggested the idea to current officers and helped make preparations for the event.

“We thought her message was one women on campus and the in the community would really find inspirational and thought provoking,” Verest said.

Assistant Police Chief Jeff Christensen was optimistic about Shelton’s presentation.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “Educational efforts are key to informing students, faculty, and University staff.

Anytime we can get someone on campus that can make a powerful statement regarding the important topic of sexual abuse or assault, that’s great.”

Elizabeth Rahn, sophomore in Business and vice president of public relations for Panhellenic Council, said she hoped Shelton’s visit would promote awareness and make people more comfortable with the topic of sexual abuse and assault.

“We want to make people more aware, not just Panhellenics, but the whole campus, including men and women,” Rahn said. “We want to bring the issue to the forefront and make everyone more comfortable with the subject.”

Yael Dvorin, junior in LAS and president of Panhellenic Council, said she feels that sexual abuse on campus is a significant problem.

“It scares me how high statistics are,” she said.

According to crime map data compiled by the Campus Police Department, 15 students reported in 2006 that they had been sexually abused on campus.

However, Christensen pointed out that those statistics are not accurate.

“That’s just the number of students that reported the crime to the police,” he said. “They don’t always choose to report it. It’s a hidden crime.”

The Office of Women’s Programs, said Christensen, has more accurate data. The office also co-sponsored Shelton’s visit, as they work specifically with students looking for support.

Patricia Morley, director of women’s programs, said in 2006, 60 students reported that they had been sexually abused.

“I would say the numbers haven’t varied a lot in recent years,” Morley said. “They generally fall between 60-70 students.”

However, these numbers still only reflect the number of students who chose to report the crime.

In her presentation, Shelton said she encouraged survivors to speak out.

“Hopefully, you learned something tonight,” Shelton said, “and you ignite what you have to give to the world.”