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Program promotes respect in relationships

Several MIT groups and offices are sponsoring a weeklong series of events aimed at promoting an atmosphere where MIT community members can learn about and openly discuss sexual assault, sexual health and other relationship issues.

"It Happens Here, Too: MIT Looks at Issues of Relationship, Responsibility and Respect" takes place in various campus locations from February 12-16. The keynote speech will be given by Katie Koestner, a national speaker and date rape survivor, on Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7pm in Lobdell.

The program had its beginnings when students asked Gina Baral of MIT Medical's Health Education if she could book Ms. Koestner as a speaker. Ms. Baral subsequently began working with Lynn Roberson of Counseling and Support Services on planning a series of events around the theme of relationship issues.

As they organized the event during the fall, they enlisted help from students and staff in many other offices and organizations, including the MIT Chaplaincies, Residential Life and Student Life Programs, the Graduate Student Office, Aramark, Campus Police, the Campus Activities Complex, the Department of Athletics, the MIT Coop, the Tech, the Thistle, Stop Our Silence, the MIT Social Justice Cooperative, the Panhellenic Association, Med-LINKS, Color Creations, the Black Graduate Student Association, the Black Women's Alliance and the National Society for Collegiate Scholars.

Talks include "Surviving the Urban Campus Culture: Streetwise@MIT" and "Emotions 101" on February 12, and "What's Love Got to Do With It? What Is a Healthy Relationship?" on February 13. Also featured will be booths, awareness buttons, purple ribbons, and the nationally touring Clothesline Project: Shirts from Survivors (similar in concept to the AIDS Quilt).

"Activities are designed to encourage respect and responsible behavior in a creative, engaging and entertaining manner," Ms. Baral said. "Events will be either educational, interactive or otherwise expressive, designed to provoke thought and action.

Send e-mail to for the full schedule, a list of MIT resources and other information.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 7, 2001.

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