Conspicuously placed in the University Center at Texas A&M University-Texarkana is an undressed bed captivating interest of the youth bustling from hall to hall to reach their next class. The bed serves as a message and as a means to begin a conversation about consent during the peak sexual time of these students’ lives.
TAMU-T alumni, Amy Stanley, visited campus and inquired about what the University is doing to bring awareness to sexual assault, how the school is helping to prevent these events from occurring, and how they can handle these situations should they arise. When Barbara Wilson, M.S., LPC, for Texas A&M University-Texarkana realized there weren’t any answers, she realized a dialogue needed to be created.
Stanley is a victim of sexual assault and inspired Wilson and fellow counselor, Briana Taylor, to create a means of educating what constitutes consent and when it is no longer given.
The idea of the bed came from a Youtube video after Wilson, Taylor, and Counseling and Development Specialist, Courtney Thomas, found the story of a woman who wrote her message on the mattress she was raped on and placed it outside her dormitory. Other women began to write their own stories and shared their strength in numbers.
The University wanted to become more vocal about the issue of sexual assault and have now commenced a campaign called, “These Hands Won’t Harm,” to train students and empower them to take care of one another.
“Statistically, 1 in 6 women become victims of sexual assault,” declared Wilson. “We are trying to give them an avenue to speak up because not all of them do.”
Thomas is certified in Victims Advocacy Assistance and is able to provide assistance in a court of law for victims if a student should need that. Wilson and Taylor provide counseling and follow their clients lead when it comes to handling how the situation is addressed from there on out.
“We really try to help them identify consent by incorporating it into the exploration process. If there is ever a time when anyone is uncomfortable with anything then a conversation needs to be had and someone needs to stay, ‘stop,’ immediately,” emphasized Wilson.
TAMU-T campus fraternities helped facilitate the project and informed students about understanding consent during times of sexual interaction. Counselors are helping young people identify what consent it and how to remain in the good graces of one another during a very turbulent time of their lives. Together, the University, students, and friends can help one another remain safe while also enjoying the many pleasures of life.