Standing up to sexual assault

Ferris implements programs for prevention and education

A new year at Ferris is bringing about multiple tactics to educate students on sexual assault and related topics.

“We’re trying to provide a number of different options,” Title IX Coordinator and Associate Dean of Student Affairs Kevin Carmody said. “If we rely too heavily on one and somebody doesn’t get it, that’s our missed opportunity.”

One of these options is Haven. Haven is an online course Ferris contracted last semester that helps students understand sexual assault, dating violence, harassment, consent and more. Haven is a short, confidential and interactive program offered to all Ferris students at with the registration code f7cf4da7.

“We’ve personalized Haven so there are resources we can provide on campus if, after going through it, someone realizes, ‘that’s what happened to me and now I want to do something about it,’” Carmody said. “They will know where to go, how to start, what to approach and how the university can help them.”

A new program being implemented this semester is an event called Sexual Health & Wellness for College and Beyond. FSUS classes will attend this event on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. in Williams Auditorium to learn about sexual health topics. Though FSUS classes are required to attend, the event is open to all students.

StepUp! Ferris is an on-campus training program aimed at bystander intervention tactics that began last year. Carmody said informational StepUp! presentations are given to RSOs, classes and FSUS groups.

Though Sexual Health & Wellness, Haven and StepUp! Ferris are available to all Ferris students, Carmody said the programs are aimed at first-year students so they learn sexual assault information at the beginning of their college careers and can continue to educate others.

“We’ve also tried to connect with various student leaders, such as RAs, to put it on students’ radars,” Carmody said. “Our training with various faculty and staff is something we’re trying to do to make sure they’re aware of it so they can pay it forward. If we can empower a lot of different people, it’s much more likely that people will get it on their radar.”

Ashley Summers, a Ferris applied speech communication senior, is the senior resident advisor (SRA) in Brophy McNerney Hall. According to her, Housing and Residence Life staff members undergo a Title IX and Consent training session at the beginning of the year to learn how to handle sexual assault incidents.

“As RAs, it’s not our job to convict or accuse anyone,” Summers said. “We’re there to provide support for each student that may unfortunately go through this situation. Our number one priority is to make that student feel safe and to let them know that we’re there for them and proud of them for being strong enough to come forward and that the situation was not their fault.”

Summers said RAs are trained to report incidents to their hall directors and then a professional, such as Carmody, will intervene and assist the student.

Additionally, Ferris Department of Public Safety Chief Bruce Borkovich talks with every athletic team on campus every year about sexual assault and consent.

“What I try to avoid is another adult lecturing,” Borkovich said. “I tell the athletes, ‘I’m here to protect you. I’m not here to threaten or scare you. I’m here to make you understand what this is so you don’t get yourself in a position where you ruin your life.’ I think that’s a successful message when they know I’m here to protect them, not ruin their lives.”

Borkovich said he believes overall, Ferris is a “really safe” campus.

“We try to do a good job, and the university is committed to safety as a whole,” Borkovich said. “But we also have a lot of good, quality students here. I think it’s a combination of those things that make it a safe campus.”

For more information, contact the Ferris DPS at (231) 591-5000, Kevin Carmody at (231) 591-2088 or the Personal Counseling Center at (231) 591-2614.