As the first month of the first semester draws to a close, the second year of EmpowerMOUNT begins. Professor Jaime Wright, one of the leading faculty members of EmpowerMOUNT, believes that the organization will bring positive change to Mount St. Mary’s University. EmpowerMOUNT, an organization designed by and for the Mount, is designed to train students on talking about awareness and prevention of sexual assault and misconduct.
“EmpowerMOUNT provides the opportunity for students to discuss topics that can be very uncomfortable, so it gives them a space where they can feel safe,” explained Wright, “We go to the root of the problem. EmpowerMOUNT is a critical thinking experience.”
EmpowerMOUNT was created through the efforts of Mount President Timothy Trainer, who wanted to encourage starting the conversation on sexual assault and misconduct on campus. Utilizing a model he had learned from his time at West Point, he introduced it to faculty and staff during discussions on how to encourage student-to-student learning experiences. Combining the expertise and drive of both Trainer and Wright, EmpowerMOUNT was born.
At the helm of EmpowerMOUNT is Wright, who earned her Master’s in Student Affairs and Higher Education from Slippery Rock University. Knowing very early on that she wanted to work with college students, Wright hopes that undergraduates who are passionate about making a positive impact on campus will consider participating in EmpowerMOUNT.
“I really think it’s important to talk about sexual misconduct, not in the way of ‘here’s how to prevent yourself from getting hurt,’ but in asking ourselves how can we better support each other and make a community that feels empowered to end sexual assault and misconduct.” Wright said.
Peer educators will have biweekly meetings, one with Wright and the other with their group. There they will prepare for upcoming presentations and training events. In order to present the EmpowerMOUNT workshop, attendance at these meetings is mandatory for peer educators.
While optimistic about the current school year, Wright also looks to the future of EmpowerMOUNT. “My ultimate goal is to have conversations on this campus that haven’t happened in the past,” Wright stated, “and having a community that is going to be open and accepting to those who have gone through these experiences as well as being tolerant and really holding each other accountable to be better.”
EmpowerMOUNT has a great deal of support amongst the faculty, including that of Ken McVearry, Dean of Students. After thirteen years at the Mount, McVearry hopes that “the more we can do proactively, the less we’ll have to deal with on the reactive end.”
With meetings for EmpowerMOUNT quickly approaching, both Wright and McVearry hope that students consider joining them.
“If you want to make a positive impact on the Mount and make a difference, EmpowerMOUNT is a great opportunity to do that,” Wright said.
“EmpowerMOUNT is a way to really improve the entire sense of true community,” McVearry concluded, “along with having much more expanded awareness and conversations on topics that really do have the best aim in mind of helping all of us at Mount St. Mary’s University maintain dignity and respect for one another.”