She explained how institutions skew their data to hide the real numbers of sexual assault on campuses. Other major points of her presentation included the impact of fraternities and sororities on hyper-masculinity, traditional gender roles and believing in rape myths.
After watching the documentary “The Hunting Ground” on sexual assault for her gender communication course, Trumbull knew she wanted to focus on this topic for her paper.
“Watching this documentary shocked and horrified me,” she said. “It made me realize that I wanted more information on this issue so that I could learn more and maybe someday help make the statistics on sexual assault drop.”
Trumbull hopes audience members learned that sexual assault on college campus is a major problem and conversations are needed to fix that problem.
“We need to be open and honest and facilitate an environment in which victims feel comfortable to disclose their assault,” said Trumbull. “We need to start punishing our perpetrators and send the message that sexual assault is not at all acceptable, and that the victim is never to blame.”
Thuss and Trumbull both enjoyed meeting other presenters at the conference who also shared an interest in gender studies.
“I was surrounded by mostly women—maybe one or two men—that are intelligent and kind, and worked so hard to present on what they are passionate about,” said Trumbull.
“All of the women were nothing but supportive and gave me the sweetest compliments after I presented,” she added. “The environment was just overall proud. We were proud of each other for standing up and speaking and proud of ourselves for having the courage to do it.”
Thuss, who is also president of The Birkenstocks (gender club), was inspired by a presentation on an online blog called Her Campus, a global online community for college women.
“They explained how it worked and how to bring it to DeSales so I think it’s definitely something that the gender club will look into starting,” said Thuss.
Additionally, Thuss, Trumbull and Nadia Murray, all members of The Birkenstocks, plus senior Kimberly Semiday, volunteered at the conference by checking in guests and participants, and stuffing their welcome bags.
Next spring, the annual Women & Gender Studies conference will be held at DeSales with Dr. Katherine Grasso, communication professor and Birkenstocks advisor, serving as the conference chair.