Title IX, Pioneer Records collaborate for concert event

Written By Eddie Trizzino

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photo by Chloe Jakiela
The Break The Silence Against Sexual Violence Awareness Concert, hosted by Pioneer Records, featured the performances of David Wilson, Hannah Jenkins, John Kono Rushlancder’s CD Release Party and The Commonheart Thursday night.

April is sexual assault awareness month, which is a national reminder of an issue that deserves attention even though it is a sensitive subject. For the second year in a row, Point Park’s Title IX department hosted the Break the Silence Against Sexual Violence Awareness Concert to educate and bring student attention to the dangers of sexual assault.

“With this event we try to bring awareness to this important social issue, and also let people have fun and interact with each other,” said Elizabeth Rosemeyer, Point Park University’s Title IX coordinator, in an interview at the concert.

In addition to bringing attention to sexual violence, the concert was also host to the Pioneer Records’ album release party of John Rushlander, who played a set of songs to the crowd of students and local organizations.

“I love playing in front of anyone, and I’m at a point where if I can get people to just watch it’s great,” John Rushlander, junior Sports, Arts and Entertainment Management (SAEM) major, and Pioneer Records’ second Pioneer Star, said after playing.

The concert was a collaboration between Title IX and the SAEM department, who combined their resources and goals to reach the most students possible.

“Title IX asked who we could get to play, and we had all our artists here so I asked if we could include John’s album release party, and it all worked together,” Ed Traversari, SAEM associate professor, said at the concert.

To support the message of awareness, local advocate groups and organizations from around Pittsburgh attended to spread the word on dealing with sexual violence of any kind.

“This is a great thing to host because it raises awareness for something we should all know about,” Laura Summers, supervisor of Prevention Services for Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR), said at the concert.

PAAR had a booth at the event to give advice on dealing with situations involving sexual violence. Summers said that bystander intervention was a huge player in stopping assault before it happens.

“If you ever feel like there may be a problem, there is never harm in just checking in,” Summers said. “Trust your gut.”

PAAR also worked with a group of students on a cinema production film entitled “Some Monsters,” which involves a story based on sexual assault.

“We paired up with PAAR, who helped us craft the story through their own experiences,” said Jordan Durham, senior cinema production major and producer of the film.

Although preemptively stopping sexual assault was the message of the concert, support for victims of sexual abuse was also an issue that was pushed. The Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh (WC&S) is an advocate organization which deals with victims of sexual abuse or assault.

“Sexual violence is an intimate kind of violence that can be very harmful,” Erin Leffew, who is an advocate from WC&S, said.

WC&S also has a 24-hour hotline for victims who need immediate help, as well as emergency shelters for those affected. Shelter services for victims are provided at a confidential location in Shadyside, which is revealed to a victim once it is certain they will need to stay there. The hotline for this organization is 412-687-8005.

“We have support groups for any kind of victim of sexual abuse,” WC&S advocate Shvonne Walker said.

Summers said that being there for a victim can help them cope.

“If the violence already happened, let the survivor drive, and let them know they’re not alone in the healing process,” Summers said.

In addition to the local Pittsburgh advocate groups, Point Park also has organizations which act as advocates for preventing sexual violence, such as “Not on my Campus.”

“[It] is an organization that strives to promote awareness and educate college campuses on sexual violence, and how it can be stopped,” Syrah Sherwood, junior acting major and president of “Not on my Campus,” said at the concert.

It is a national student organization that got its start at Southern Methodist University and has since moved to other colleges and universities around the country, joining Point Park in 2015. At the concert, the organization had a booth where students could sign a pledge to fight sexual violence, and also get their photos taken after writing the name of the club on the palm of their hand.

The musical side of the event was headlined by the local Pittsburgh band “Commonheart,” and supported by Rushlander, junior SAEM major and former Pioneer Star Hannah Jenkins and Point Park alum David Wilson.

Students were given free event t-shirts at the door, and were also given tickets which allowed them to get free  cotton candy and sandwiches. They could also get teal ribbons, which are the national symbol for awareness of sexual violence.

“We’re happy to empower students to stop [sexual violence] in our community,” Rosemeyer said. “Even though this is a place for students to enjoy themselves, they should know about this issue and make it an important cause to fight for.”

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