Students at St. Ambrose University in Davenport decided the fate of a real-life couple who blurred the lines between drunken sex and sexual assault during a seminar last week.

At Rock Island’s Augustana College, an interactive presentation called “Sex Signals” has been mandatory for freshmen for more than a decade. 

Colleges in the Quad-Cities and across the country are gearing up for the influx of new students with several programs targeted toward young students in an attempt to educate them about sexual assault. 

Augustana’s two-person show is “highly interactive, and they discuss in an honest and relevant way, social situations that college student’s face themselves,” said Ken Brill, associate dean of students and director of student activities. “They do a number of vignettes, and the students in the audience have stop signs. They can hold up a sign at anytime during the skit and say ‘stop,’ and the actors will then answer questions about what they’re thinking.”

St. Ambrose hosted activities last week planned by the school’s Sexual Assault Awareness Team. 

Last Tuesday’s speech by Brett Sokolow, an attorney who specializes in sexual misconduct and campus security, also is designed to get students to participate 

In it, Sokolow lays out the facts of a case involving a male and female student who meet at a party, drink and have sex in the woman’s dorm room. After the night is over, he writes down his name and phone number for the woman who wakes up alone and cannot remember the evening. She presses charges for sexual assault. 

Sokolow, who said the facts are as close as possible to a case he was involved with 12 years ago, allows audience members to ask questions before having them cast a verdict. Then, they explain their decisions.

The Sexaul Assault Awareness Team is made up of students, faculty and staff and has been working at the university for more than a decade, said Stephen Tendall, director of Ambrose’s counseling center. 

Greg Wilson, an 18-year-old St. Ambrose freshman, liked having the opportunity to debate the dorm room assault.

“Real life stuff goes on that people don’t even talk about, but it doesn’t even hit you until it happens on your campus and to someone you know.”

“We’re always working to chip away at what is still a major problem in our society and around the world,” Tendall said. 

Students rehearsing for Thursday’s play called “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” said they weren’t sure if all of the stories were true, but they were powerful nonetheless. 

Tom Sendelbach, a St. Ambrose senior in finance and management and a residential adviser, read a monologue from the perspective of a man who knew he was wrong when he coerced women into having sex. 

Sendelbach said he thought the whole show was a good thing for students, especially freshmen who were new to the college experience. 

“I think people don’t realize exactly the definition of sexual assault, and I think that this is aimed and making men and women more aware of their boundaries and how things can go wrong,” Sendelbach said. “I do know that there are situations that male freshmen do get into, and they don’t necessarily know the line in the sand. I hope that this event helps to clear the fog away and sharpen people’s perceptions when it comes to sexual assault.”

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