Residence halls educate students during ‘No Means Yes but Harder’ program

Jene ThomasGeneral Assignment Reporter 

One out of four women are predicted to be victims of sexual assault during their college career, according to the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Of those women, 48.8 percent did not consider what happened to be rape.

On Jan. 19, Benjamin Velardi, residential advisor at West Campus, hosted “No Means Yes but Harder,” a program that aimed to teach students about what sexual assault means and discuss resources available for victims on campus. Although the program was geared towards men, due to the majority of attacks committed have been by men, all students were invited to attend.

According to the One in Four organization, “98.1 percent of the time a man was the perpetrator.”

No means Yes

Ben Velardi talks to students during the “No Means Yes but Harder” program. Photo Credit: Jene Thomas

“No Means Yes but Harder” is a joke amongst guys, according to Ben when he explained the meaning behind the name.

“It’s provocative, subliminal and got the message across,” he said.

The first topic on the agenda was to differentiate sexual assault from rape.

“The very specific and fine difference between sexual assault and rape is that rape consists of penetration, in its sole manner,” Velardi said, “whereas sexual assault can include a multitude of things, including rape.”

Velardi wanted the students to know things specifically about what could happen on a college campus. To assist in his session, he fabricated scenarios that could possibly occur on campus, anywhere from a boyfriend and girlfriend fooling around to being drunk a party.

“This is important for you college-aged kids,” he said, “whether you drink or not, to know that if you are under the influence of anything, drugs or alcohol, that impairs your decision making, you are not able to give consent to any sexual act.”

He defined consent as a verbal and unimpaired “yes,” and without it, the act could be considered assault.

Using himself as an example, he created the scenario of him and his girlfriend being at a party but his girlfriend had one drink. Although in this situation, she was not drunk, Velardi said that she could very well wake up the next morning and feel assaulted.

Velardi let the group know about all of the resources that Southern provides. Because of the seriousness of the issue, he and his fellow RA’s are mandated reporters. In other words, students may go to them to report a situation, but confidentiality would not apply.

“This doesn’t mean I would go babbling to anyone, but I would have to tell my boss, who would tell his boss who could then figure out the necessary steps to take,” he said.

All across campus are flyers from the Sexual Assault Response Team to list mandated reporters who could help victims. Among the list was assistant football coach Jon Shelton, who stressed the importance of education students, especially men, about sexual assault.

“People say there are a lot of bad men out there but I don’t think that’s the case,” he said. “I think there are a lot of uneducated men and my job is to educate them.”

Shelton’s position as a mandated reporter came from developing the S.M.A.R.T initiative at the University of New Hampshire, standing for “smart male athlete reality training,” aimed at teaching male athletes what constitutes as sexual assault in hopes of preventing any cases.

“To me, education is key,” he said.

Those who wish to speak about about an attack, whether it happened to them or a friend, are asked to visit the Granoff Health Center and SART, located in the women’s center in Schwartz Hall.

The program served as a hall event, where RA’s put together an educational informational about a topic not typically taught in the classroom.

“It’s important stuff to know,” said Persephone Ruff, who attended the event. “It can happen to anyone.”


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