MC SAPA Communicates for Change / Kienna Van Dellen
Mississippi College Sexual Assault Prevention Ambassadors (MC SAPA) started their organization on campus in fall 2020. Since then they have had an incredible amount of support flooding in from both staff and students. Within the past year, the organization has worked on expanding its reach across campus and getting more students involved, being able to spread information and resources.
Their main goal this past year has been forming relationships on campus in order to lay a strong foundation for their much-needed place on campus.“We had a very good response from faculty and students. We were the Student Organization of Excellence last year, so that was really exciting for us,” said Caroline McGuffee, President of MC SAPA. “This is a very foundational year for SAPA. We’re still building who we are and I believe the core part of that is we’ve got to get our name out there and establish good relationships. Collaboration also is able to give you different viewpoints of things you might not have seen before.”
MC SAPA is under the faculty sponsorship of Associate Professor of English at MC,
Dr. Kristi Melancon. Dr. Kristena Gaylor, an Associate Professor of Management and Economics in the School of Business, serves as Title IX coordinator for the school and offers support to the group alongside Brent Perkins, the Assistant Director for the Office of Public Safety on campus.
After the success of events held last year, such as a self-defense training class as well as spreading information about Title IX and hosting fundraisers, SAPA have been expanding their training. Over the summer the board was able to attend training sessions with the Mississippi Coalition Against Sexual Assult (MCASA), where they were able to learn about specific details within the law enforcement sector for sexual violence on campus and how they can support survivors and provide proper programming. Through training with MCASA and working with them over the past year, MC SAPA received a generous donation from the coalition to use toward their outreach efforts.
Something SAPA is working hard to make students aware of is the red zone. The red zone is the first six to nine weeks of college, typically between move-in and Thanksgiving, and is when the vast majority of sexual assaults occur. This is because this timeline is usually when a large number of college parties happen in most schools, and it tends to be a busier point in the year with more events being held.
MC SAPA recently had an event in partnership with the Student Government Association called Rock Out the Red Zone. Through the generous donation from MCASA, they were able to fund the event for students and staff. This event featured live music performances, rock painting, and information about the red zone and Title IX to raise awareness for the various issues found on college campuses across the country. The goal of Rock Out the Red Zone was to turn the red zone into the green zone.
The lighting initiative is another campus improvement topic that has recently been brought to SAPA’s attention. Students have mentioned concerns about poorly lit places on campus where there could be more lighting in order to create a safer environment. SAPA took the issue to SGA and they have since started to create a plan of action on how to move forward. “A lot of students have said they felt unsafe and that’s something SAPA cares about. We wanna make campus a safer place and make our students feel safe,” said McGuffee.
Across all different campuses across the country, there are various specific types of sexual assault issues that arise, varying from campus to campus. Stalking has gone up since the pandemic started and dating violence became more prevalent as the pandemic goes on. One of SAPA’s goals is to see what issues they can address on campus and how they can meet those needs and prevent those situations from happening again.