“One in 5 women, and one in 16 men, are sexually assaulted throughout their time spent in college.” Those were the first words spoken by Ms. Elaine Pasqua on Thursday, February 23, as she gave a powerful and memorable presentation to every student athlete at Lesley University. A nationally-known and widely praised public speaker, Ms. Pasqua gave a program that was engaging, relatable, and informative; she was able to get across to the students the importance of learning how to prevent sexual assault, as well as how to encourage healthy relationships– which many college students do not take seriously enough in today’s society.
Elaine Pasqua has been traveling the country for more than two decades, inspiring and transforming people of all ages. From high school students to pro athletes, college students and even corporations, her work over the years has motivated millions, especially collegiate athletes. Over the years, athletes have became her focus, because she says she understands the unique issues they face everyday, and the higher profile they must maintain on campus. Ms. Pasqua also noted in her presentation that while athletes are expected to hold high standards on campus, research has shown that they are also one of the groups that most frequently engages in high-risk drinking. That is exactly why she strives to educate student athletes about the risks in certain behaviors; but she does it in a way that is not judgmental. In fact, her presentation was energetic and humorous, and the athletes who attended responded well to what she said.
Elaine Pasqua has developed specific activities and stories, designed to meet the needs of student athletes. One specific activity that left a clear visual impression with the students was meant to demonstrate how easily a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can be spread. The activity involved the passing of liquids between cups of 14 students. When the activity started, only 3 students’ cups contained liquid which represented an “STI,” but after each student had passed their liquid on to 3 other students, the result was startling. What used to be only 3 students carrying the “STI” turned into 12, with just three students who had “clean” cups. This activity left many students in shock and really got the point across to them.
Along with engaging activities, Elaine Pasqua’s presentation also included some very empowering stories. Each one highlighting and explaining a different aspect of sexual assault. Many of these stories contained elements which led her to explaining the importance of sticking together at parties and looking out for teammates at all times. Whether that means jumping into a conversation to get a friend out of a potential dangerous situation, or making sure they get home safely, she made it very clear to the audience of athletes that being a bystander is not okay.
Ms. Pasqua incorporated an amazing amount of seriousness, personal experiences, and humor to make sure there was a clear understanding of what exactly sexual assault is; the difference between sexual assault and rape; as well as the steps everyone could be taking to prevent a sexual assault from occurring. But while the subject matter of her talk was serious, Ms. Pasqua had a very optimistic attitude throughout the entire presentation, and she was extremely encouraging. Her entire presentation was centered around the idea that it is up to each and every one of the students who attended to start making a difference– not just in the Lesley community, but in the world. She also made it very clear to her audience that this presentation was not the end, that she would always be available to communicate with anybody who wanted her advice. Since Lesley University strives to be a campus that is effective in addressing and preventing sexual assault, having speakers like Elaine Pasqua is very important. It is fair to say that she left an undeniably positive impression on every student who attended her presentation.