The Alpha Delta Lambda chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity hosted “A Mile in Her Shoes,” a sexual assault forum on Feb. 27. The forum was an open discussion focused on raising awareness and ending the stigmas surrounding sexual assault.

The forum began with a two-question ice breaker. The audience was given two situations and had to decide whether or not the situations were considered sexual assault. The ice breakers made the audience question what they considered to be sexual assault and explain why they held these beliefs.

The discussion was followed by a short speech by Chief Gerald Lewis Jr. of the UTSA Police Department. Lewis expressed how important it is to “have a partnership when we have a relationship.” He went on to say, “One of the things that’s always disturbing as a police chief is that people don’t trust the department enough to report that they’ve been sexually assaulted.”

Lewis’ participation in the discussion of sexual assault through the forum and his attempt to break the barrier between himself and the students was intended to emphasize that the safety of the students is always a priority, regardless of the status of the attacker.

After Lewis spoke, the panel moved forth to introductions and began their open discussion of seven questions.

One of the questions asked the audience, “What are the limits on a compliment?” A senior student at UTSA who served on the panel explained that she was once told, “Girl, you look like an ice cream.” Kimiya Factory, a senior political science major, explained that there needs to be a line drawn in compliments because some people are too forward in giving them. Factory shared her own experience and used it to spark the discussion of what it means to be a woman and that, in giving said compliments, people should take into account the receiver’s experiences and approach the situation more empathically.

Another question asked was, “What stops individuals from reporting sexually charged incidents?” One audience member, who will remain anonymous, valiantly shared her own experiences and shared that some of her male friends confided in her with their traumatic experiences.

“We do not stick up for [men] enough. It literally kills me to see [men] going through that because it can happen to anybody,” the audience member said.

The purpose was not to drive the discussion away from women but towards inclusion to recognize the experiences men go through as well.

“We need to advocate for our males as much as we do for our women, and I am not saying to lessen the fight for our women,” the audience member said.

The remainder of the forum was dedicated to inclusivity of all victims and survivors.

The night ended with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. displayed on a screen saying, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, please contact the Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or The Rape Crisis Center 24-hr Hotline at 210-349-7273.

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