“No-Yes:” Katie Koestner Visits Campus to Raise Sexual Violence Awareness

Embry-Riddle Prescott and the Title IX Office host profound speaker

CONTENT WARNING: themes of sexual violence are discussed

On Sept. 24, 2019, Katie Koestner visited ERAU campus and spoke about her story, sexual violence awareness, consent, activism, and ways to implement change. Introduced by Assistant Dean Elizabeth Frost of the Title IX Office, it was revealed that Koestner has many accolades, experiences, and accomplishments under her belt. She is an author, activist, and educator. She’s been on numerous news outlets and other notable platforms, from CNN to the cover of Time Magazine to the Oprah show. She is the subject of an HBO movie, has given testimony at Capitol Hill, and been involved with the UN regarding violence against women. Having spoken at over 5000 schools, the Department of Defense (DOD), and other venues, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott Campus was added to her list that day. 

Speaking to different groups at different times in the day, Koestner shared her story, advice, and experience with activism about three times. Once was with the faculty and staff, another was with athletics, and the last was with the SGA and other interested members of campus and Prescott community. At these events, Koestner opened up about activism and what that looked like. Advising that a person “be unelectable, raise heck, ruffle feathers,” she shared how by speaking up, she has upset many a person when trying to deliver effective change. Through her advice, she revealed that those people who wish to impart the most impactful change to society need to be those that stick to doing the right thing and not be concerned with being liked by most others.

Following this, Koestner shared her story of being date raped in 1990 while in school at the College of William and Mary with the audience. SGA President Joshua Limes was present at the final sharing of her story and called it a “powerful and unique approach to spreading awareness.” As Koestner detailed her harrowing account of being date raped, she interspersed it with what seemed to be an inner dialogue of her in-the-moment thought process and her hindsight of the whole incident. 

After she concluded her story, she shared some of the things she had changed, one of which was advocacy for legislation changes to the definitions of ‘rape,’ ‘sexual violence,’ and ‘sexual misconduct.’ Koestner also revealed that one definition that hasn’t changed since the 20th century is the definition of sexual harassment and how universities like Embry-Riddle could make history by leading the change. Limes expressed that he wants to pioneer such a policy change here on campus. 

Upon the conclusion of her speaking event, all attendees were invited to the Take Back the Night event happening in the Lower Hanger and Amphitheatre. Koestner serves as the director of the Take Back the Night Foundation and her presence added power to the event. Community and campus resources were available in the Lower Hanger and after a slight intermission, a survivor-focused speak out followed in the Amphitheatre. 

Seeing as how this is a topic that plagues many college campuses, including ours, please note that there are resources available for anyone and everyone who has been affected by acts of sexual violence and misconduct. The Counseling Center and Wellness Center are confidential sources to share with and seek healing in that regard. The Title IX office, Campus Security, and other mandated reporters on campus can assist students with filing reports and pursuing any follow-up action, should the reporter choose to do so. The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department is also a great resource to report to should someone chose to address their incident outside of school. Lastly, the Yavapai Regional Medical Center has a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) on staff. 

Koestner asked during her speech, “How do we affect change in our communities to make them better?” This raises a vital question to our community because it has many different answers. The core theme that unites all people, however, is the desire to improve their community for all others within. No matter what actions we all take, no action is too small to impart any modicum of change.

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