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Buffalo State Hosts Sexual Assault Awareness Speaker

Posted: October 12, 2012

Three Buffalo State organizations teamed up to host a compelling seminar on date rape awareness October 9 on campus.

The Criminal Justice Honor Society, the Criminal Justice Club, and Violence Intervention and Victim Advocacy (VIVA) invited Brandi Sutherland, training specialist for Crisis Services’ Advocate Program, to share her expertise on sexual assault with students and faculty members.

Sutherland emphasized that sexual assault is essentially about power and control, that consent must be a voluntary decision made by sober partners, and that the victim of a sexual assault "is never, ever at fault.”

"We live in a victim-blaming society," Sutherland said. "When someone’s house burns down, people ask how they can help. When someone is a victim of sexual assault, we ask questions like, 'What was she wearing? Was she flirting?'"

Along with blaming the victim, standing passively by while a situation escalates into sexual assault is another huge problem, Sutherland said. Her message of getting involved correlates with Buffalo State’s bystander intervention initiative, "Do Your Part," which teaches students how to identify situations that could lead to danger, how to intervene, and how to create long-term change on campus.

Sutherland left the audience with three simple acts to support a sexual assault survivor: listen, believe, and support her (or him).

The date rape awareness seminar is one of several proactive measures Buffalo State has in place to protect its students.

All freshmen and transfer students must take the web-based prevention course Sexual Assault Edu prior to coming to Buffalo State. The national online program, which students take in conjunction with another online course AlcoholEdu for College, explains the meaning of consent, how to help a friend, how to intervene in a situation that may lead to sexual assault, and where to find support.

Additionally, the Dean of Students Office sponsors VIVA, which connects students with support services, including community agencies and the University Police Department. VIVA also works with the Equity and Campus Diversity Office to help ensure compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 which prohibits sex discrimination in education.

VIVA is working to increase visibility of our services and to increase awareness of sexual violence and relationship violence on campus.

"We do this in a variety of ways including co-sponsoring programs like (the October 9) seminar, and tabling during Bengal Pause and at Weeks of Welcome events,” said Liz McGough, VIVA project coordinator/case manager. "Even if students don’t take any information with them, they become aware that we are here."

VIVA also works with the Health Promotions Office to disseminate information about how Buffalo State community members can "Do Your Part" to end sexual and relationship violence.

For more information about organizing awareness and educational programs, call (716) 878-4029 or e-mail

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