Stewart underscores importance of student unity against sexual violence

Julia de la Parra, Staff Writer

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As the newly appointed Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator, Rachel Stewart supervises and coordinates the University’s Speak UP program. Speak UP emphasizes the positive bystander model, which believes that everyone has a role in ending sexual violence on campus. Stewart said that her job “is to create a comprehensive system of prevention and education on campus for sexual violence, relationship violence, and stalking.”

Stewart stepped into her position this past November. First and foremost, she is responsible for training and overseeing the Peer Educators and researching and developing the curriculum for workshops, but her role entails additional duties as well.

“I also serve as a resource on campus about these issues and lead training [sessions] with student leaders, faculty, and staff on the roles they can play in preventing interpersonal violence, acting as a positive bystander, and supporting a victim/survivor,” Stewart said.

Stewart became fascinated with this type of work during her first year of college at the University of Connecticut, where she was involved in a program similar to  Speak UP. The program made her aware of the extensive number of people affected by interpersonal violence.

While still attending the University of Connecticut, Stewart discovered her passion for working with students in a college setting. She took many courses related to sexual violence and sexual violence prevention, and started Revolution Against Rape, an organization designed to address the rape culture on campus.

“[F]or my senior Honors thesis, I developed my own program for teaching consent based on best practice literature and studies of how college students understand and communicate consent,” Stewart said.

After completing her undergraduate studies, Stewart attended Harvard University and received her master’s degree in higher education. During her graduate studies, she learned more about how colleges and universities operate and how to work with students. While seeking a job post-schooling, the University’s position of Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator immediately piqued her interest.

“When I saw the posting for this position [at the University], I knew it was the perfect combination of my experiences, skills, and passions,” Stewart said.

Stewart hopes to increase campus involvement in issues of sexual violence, stressing the importance of having “everyone united in this work.”

“I’d also love to see Speak UP Bucknell partner with more groups and communities across campus to create events and discussions that combine interests and intersecting identities. Next year, we will have the largest group of Peers we’ve ever had and so we’re really gearing up to expand our reach and the partnerships we have on campus,” Stewart said.

 

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