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FIRE, a Student Group Strives to Fight Sexual Assault on Campus

These are the ladies taking a stand by being a part of Pace FIRE. Photo by Gerald Olvera

These are the ladies taking a stand by being a part of Pace FIRE. Photo by Gerald Olvera

Gerald Olvera, Feature Writer

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You are not alone. That is the university’s pledge to all students. FIRE (Fighting Ignorance and Rape with Education), a student peer to peer group, was designed to provide students with the tools to address sexual assault.

When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Enough Is Enough” Legislation was signed into law in July 2015, it required private colleges in New York State to adopt or administer comprehensive procedures and guidelines regarding Sexual Assault. Implementation of uniform definition of affirmative consent, amnesty policy, students’ bill of rights, ample training, and reporting requirements.

Specifically, the new law is the most aggressive policy in the nation to fight against sexual assault on college campuses. FIRE, which is specific to Pleasantville campus only, was built from student initiative to provide better response and awareness pertaining to sexual assault.

FIRE is the first point of contact for students who are looking to know more about sexual assault. They are a group of students who are passionate about raising awareness, helping peers in times of need, and they also discuss topics for healthy relationships and safe sex.

The student group is coordinated by Erin Doolin, Pace’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Specialist (SAPE). The FIRE base of operations is located in Elm Hall.

“There are a lot of great reasons to be a student at Pace,” Doolin said. “I firm believer that when you love something, you want to make it better. Pace FIRE is about helping create a community where everyone can get an education, have a college experience and be safe.”

All peer educators are confidential resources and are trained to help throughout the whole process. They can provide students with referrals to medical assistance and long-term counseling, or remain as a point of contact for each individual affected by any episode reported.

FIRE is also equitable, they have someone on campus who can support the ‘accused’ as well as the ‘accuser’ during any incident reported to the group.

Sexual Assault prevention is also important to this group. They have been presenting awareness at freshmen orientations and the University 101 course for over two years.

They also have developed informative presentations for first-year students, all new Greek Life members, and all athletes.

Before FIRE was created there were only a handful of resources available to students. Having students as peers has helped during the entire process.

“I was given the opportunity to help build FIRE and make it a reality on campus,” Co-founder and peer advocate, Kelly Lang said. “Our goal was to really make a difference and provide the campus with something it was missing.”

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