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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Activities & Organizations

Application open for sexual health, assault prevention committee


Laura McGuire speaks to students at an event in spring 2016. "Educational systems as a whole often forget (student feedback). People who are higher up are imagining what students are thinking and feeling and experiencing instead of asking them directly, so it’s important that we take the time to do that," McGuire said. | File photo/The Cougar

Laura McGuire speaks to students at an event in spring 2016. “People who are higher up are imagining what students are thinking and feeling and experiencing instead of asking them directly, so it’s important that we take the time to do that,” McGuire said. | File photo/The Cougar

From Title IX to feeling safe, comfortable and empowered, Laura McGuire wants students to know their rights.

The new sexual violence prevention and education program manager of UH Wellness spends each day devising the best ways to educate young adults on sexual health, sexual assault prevention and healthy relationships. 

In an effort to have student voices present in all projects, McGuire started the Sexual Violence and Sexual Health Advisory Committee composed entirely of students to provide organized feedback on the resources and programming.

“I feel the importance of students’ sexual health and wellness is one that is drastically undervalued, and one way to get people involved and to care more and speak up more about these issues on campus is to see other students getting involved,” said Loren Taylor, an anthropology senior who’s on the committee. “I believe as a student of the UH system, if I wish to see any change then I need to be a part of it.”

The group will host its first meeting on June 15. The committee will assist McGuire in accomplishing her office’s main education goals and contributing personal ideas.

“If they want an arts event, an awareness march, some kind of workshop or training, they’ll tell me, ‘This is what’s we’d like and this is how we’d like it to look,’ and I can create that for them,” McGuire said. “Whenever I create trainings or programs, this advisory committee will look over it before I send it out to students.”

McGuire, who began her position six months ago, said there is much she wants students to know about sexual health.

“There are three things I mainly address in my office,” McGuire said. “One is what consent is, so explaining what consent culture is and what rape culture is. Another is healthy relationships, because that’s not something you automatically know how to do or what that looks like. Lastly (is) sexual agency so students know that not only can they say no — they can say yes.”

Through educating students on their sexual health, McGuire hopes students will learn a life skill they can apply in work and in their own families.

“Navigating new relationships and boundaries and knowing what’s acceptable and not acceptable for them is a challenge for many when starting college,” McGuire said. “They don’t have a parent, or even friends telling them what to do or what’s OK, so that’s something they have to go inside themselves and figure out and there are a lot of conflicting messages. That’s something I hear students say a lot.”

Upon joining, McGuire said students can expect food at their twice-per-semester meetings and build their resumes.

Sociology senior Steven Broussard works at Fulshear, a rehabilitation residence for survivors of sexual assault ages 18 to 24.  He joined the committee to raise his awareness about sexual health issues and better counsel the women he works with.

At the same time, he thinks the experiences from talking to survivors firsthand can bring a unique viewpoint to the group.

“(Sexual violence) has always been an issue, and it doesn’t receive the attention it really should,” Broussard said. “It is so prominent on college campuses. This is the culture where is it just kind of brews. It’s unfortunate to see it brushed under with all the other things that are going on today.”

Interested students of any major can apply to be on the committee by emailing McGuire at [email protected] until June 15.

[email protected]

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