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New sexual assault awareness programs unveiled

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Thanks to a $30,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Mercyhurst has scheduled two events this month to increase training in sexual assault awareness, prevention and response.

On Friday, Feb. 24, a program called “First Responders’ Training: Assisting Students Experiencing Sexual Assault” will be offered twice, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m., in CAE300.  

Mercyhurst Title IX Director Alice Agnew said the program’s goal is to ensure that those administrators and staff most likely to be directly involved when a student reports sexual assault have received adequate training so that their responses are knowledgeable, coordinated and compassionate. 

Trainers include:

  • Erin Connelly, Erie County Assistant District Attorney

  • James Spagel, Detective Sergeant, Erie Police Department

  • Amy Blackman, Director of Prevention Education, Crime Victim Center

  • Alice Agnew, Mercyhurst Title IX Coordinator

  • Donald Fuhrmann, Chief, Mercyhurst Police and Safety

  • Judy Smith, Ph.D., Director, Health and Counseling Centers

Although specific individuals have been contacted to attend, anyone else who is interested should contact Agnew at aagnew@mercyhurst.edu.

On Monday, Feb. 27, the university will host a student-centered performance by the improv group Sex Signals, which uses trained educators to engage the audience about gender stereotypes, unrealistic sexual expectations and intimate relationships. They create the link to sexual violence, specifically reaching out to students who have mislabeled coercion as consent, with the hope of changing behaviors and encouraging bystander intervention.

The free, 90-minute program will be offered three times, at 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m., in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center to accommodate as many students as possible.