3rd Annual “Sex Sense Week” At UAlbany

28 09 2010

The University at Albany’s Sexual Assault Resource Center presented “The Line,” a documentary by Nancy Schwartzman last night in the Campus Center.  “‘The Line’ explores the issue of consent, the burden of blame and the trouble society has defining the two,” explained a 2008 Hillel Foundation release.  

Schwartzman, who has been touring with the 24 minute film since it’s completion in July of 2009, was not present for the screening or discussion, but representatives from the campus and community were hand to lead a panel Q & A.  

(L to R:) Amy Vincent, Joe Monserrat, Dan Robins

Amy Vincent, a Rape Crisis liaison with Albany County; Joe Monserrat, staffer at the Counseling Center and integral member of the “Men Reach” program; and Dan Robins, graduate assistant with Project SHAPE, spoke before and after the showing of “The Line.” 



SARC director Joyce DeWitt-Parker, Ph.D.  was pleased with the turnout for the premiere event in this series. There were around 75 people, mostly women, in the conference room. “It’s nice to see such a crowd,” DeWitt-Parker said, noting that the subject matter for the evening was often a deterrent for embarrassed would-be audience members.  

According to their website, the SARC was “designed to educate, support, motivate and empower students, staff and faculty in regards to sexual assault and relationship violence.”  Also available on their site are statistics, FAQ/myths, and safety tips.  

Brave patrons brought up issues regarding sex education in schools, the concept of “rape culture,” and the ever-popular shoulda/woulda/coulda concept of blame. 
Former NFL quarterback Don McPherson has dedicated much of retirement to the criticism of how masculine/feminine gender roles are “taught” in society. One of the more interesting points McPherson makes during his few moments on screen is that we as a society teach females that rape exists, and how to prevent and/or potentially cope with the realities of sexually based offenses, but we do not raise males to have the mentality to not committ rape.  

This brought to mind another film, 2007’s Death Proof, directed by Quentin Tarantino. The scene embedded below highlights the core problem discussed at the SARC event Monday: the issue of “should she have…”  


The other hot-button topic was that of sex education. It should be done in schools, one girl declared, much to the chagrin of the rows behind her.  Is the problem with rape that sex is still a taboo topic in our homes and schools? Maybe.  

Carol Stenger

Project SHAPE coordinator Carol Stenger was in the audience, and she piped up with the startling fact that the federal government has not provided funding for sex ed in public schools since 1996. This begs the question: if young adults don’t know exactly what sex is and the seriousness of participating in it, how can they possibly comprehend the consequences?  

 In many cases there is no program to “opt-out” of, but in schools that have an established sexual health program- some parents can simply sign away their child’s right to learn about their own bodies.   



Dr. Joyce DeWitt-Parker

 Dr. DeWitt-Parker served as moderator for the whole lecture, often playing devil’s advocate for the really touchy subjects- one of which turned out to be the issues people voiced about accountability and verifiability. 

DeWitt-Parker acknowledged that the laws need to catch up to the depths of human deparvity; stating that the context of an incident, the details, truly make a difference in the investigation process. 

Judgement and regret were also key terms during the
Later, to make a point about the ambiguity of getting/giving consent, DeWitt-Parker said:  “I could stand on Lark Street without a stitch of clothes on- that’s poor judgement. But does it give anyone the right to do anything? No.”





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