St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf to host series of talks by educator on sexual violence prevention

Keith Edwards will deliver a series of talks and presentations at St. Olaf on March 15.

St. Olaf College will host Keith Edwards, a scholar and educator on sexual violence prevention, for a series of talks and presentations on March 15.

Edwards will deliver a chapel talk and community time presentation open to everyone from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. He will speak to faculty and staff from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Black and Gold Ballrooms, and will close his visit with a presentation for students at 7:30 p.m. in the Pause.

This event was made possible by generous support from a fan of all that St. Olaf is doing to promote dialogue on important topics.

For the past 15 years, Edwards has been speaking on college campuses nationally on sexual violence prevention, men’s identity, social justice education, ally development, leadership, curricular approaches beyond the classroom, and student affairs leadership. He has spoken and consulted at more than 150 colleges and universities, presented more than 150 programs at national conferences, and has written more than 15 articles or book chapters on these issues.

“The purpose of his visit is to provide our community with the information and language needed to start more conversations on campus regarding gender-based violence prevention and men’s identity development,” says Assistant Director of Student Activities for Wellness Jon Mergens. “Our hope is our community will feel empowered to talk with one another more critically about these issues on campus.”

Visit St. Olaf’s Title IX website for information about sexual violence resources on campus.

Edwards took time before his visit to campus to answer a few questions about his work:

How did you come to be an educator on sexual violence prevention?
I first heard messages about real sexual violence prevention when I was a sophomore in college at Hamline University. Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to hear them at the time, but I kept coming back to it every time a person in my life would share their experience as a survivor. Later in graduate school I was working with many survivors and brought the same person to speak, who I had disagreed with as a sophomore. At the end of his visit to campus, he shared the presentation with me and encouraged me to start speaking. That was nearly 20 years ago.

What will your talk focus on when you visit?
My talk on sexual violence prevention will focus on how we can reframe the issue of sexual violence from being reactive to being proactive. This will include clear definitions, ways to support survivors, exploring the realities of sexual violence on campus, clarifying actionable definitions of consent, exploring the ways we are mis-educated in our culture, and identifying concrete and tangible ways we can all take action to make sexual violence rare and socially unacceptable.

What is the most important point you hope students will take away from your talk?
That they need to and can make a difference right here in their communities that will make things better for everyone.

Why is your talk beneficial for all genders to attend?
Because we are all mis-educated in our culture about these issues. We probably all contribute to the problem of sexual violence in ways that we are unaware. And most importantly, we can all be part of the solution in changing our communities.

How can students help change the culture of sexual violence on campus?
They can speak up and address sexual violence when it is imminent. They can also speak up and challenge the roots of sexual violence.  

Watch his TEDx Talk below