GVSU students talk about healthy relationships

By Jessica Harsevoort | 9/20/17 10:50pm

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GVL / Courtesy - gvsu.edu

In an effort to help build a safe campus environment at Grand Valley State University, the Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity (CWGE) hosted a talk addressing healthy relationships Tuesday, Sept. 19, in the Kirkhof Center. 

This event has been held before as part of a series of violence education and prevention programs at GVSU associated with "It’s on Us," a nationwide movement to stop sexual assault. 

This year, the event was called “Let’s Talk About It: Healthy Relationships” to promote conversation surrounding the types of relationships university students may find themselves in.

“A lot of times, it can be very uncomfortable to talk about things like relationships and sex, so it’s important to have those conversations in a safe space,” said Krystal Diel, a graduate assistant at the CWGE.

To offer attendees new insights on intimate relationships, a team of people from the CWGE used an interactive presentation to engage the audience. From a collective starting point, the speakers moved the conversation forward with polls and activities to foster critical thinking.

“We (addressed) what healthy relationships are, what they aren’t and why it can be so difficult to tell the difference,” said Jessica Jennrich, CWGE director, via email.

The conversation provided new perspectives on dating relationships, but some of the information could be applied to relationships involving family and friends as well. As such, students were encouraged to reflect on their personal relationships during and after the event.

Overall, presenters from GVSU’s CWGE said they hoped to empower students to create healthy relationships by showing participants how to recognize boundaries and figure out how to communicate with their partner, as unhealthy relationships can be a prominent issue on campus.

“Healthy relationships are an area that we see as being a true struggle for a number of students,” Jennrich said. 

As many students experience their first adult relationships in college, they may not have the language to talk about the topic. This particular event aimed to educate GVSU students so they could learn how to recognize and speak up about relationship problems they may face.

“In order to address violence in our community, it’s also important to talk about healthy relationships and healthy sexuality,” Diel said. “Because if we don’t know what those look like, it can be tough to have conversations about sexual violence.” 

Jennrich said she hoped students left the event knowing how to identify unhealthy relationships, how to remove themselves from those harmful environments and how to build mutually respectful relationships.

“Through educating students about healthy relationships, we better equip our students to feel they have the information they need to create positive relationships that help them be their best selves,” Jennrich said.

The talk on Tuesday provided students with tools to understand and overcome unhealthy relationships. In addition, there are other resources at GVSU for students seeking help from harmful situations and acts of violence.

For immediate assistance, GVSU students can call the GVSU Police Department at 616-331-3255. Other services include meeting with an advocate at the CWGE or going to the University Counseling Center. For a full list of victim’s rights and options, visit www.gvsu.edu/vro.

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