Agencies advise knowledge is power

Panel for stalking awareness says when in doubt,‘listen to your gut’

Meghan Wiedeburg
Antelope Staff

A stalking awareness panel conducted in the Nebraskan Student Union Cedar Room Thursday, Jan. 19 was made up of representatives from the Kearney S.A.F.E. Center, UNK Police Department, Kearney Police Department and Women’s Center.

For the January National Stalking Awareness Month, the panel of agencies, both on campus and in the Kearney community, shared their experiences and expertise with the students in attendance.

“The best thing you can do is get informed,” Robin Phipps, S.A.F.E. Center representative, said at the event. Stalking has an assortment of definitions and varies from case to case, which makes it hard to predict and prosecute.

Panel member Joann Andersen, Victim Witness Director at the Kearney Police Department, said that stalking behaviors start by actions that appear completely harmless. The individual’s behaviors aren’t crimes, but when pieced together forming a pattern, they can become dangerous.
 
Sergeant Ricci Fast highlighted the advantage of being on a campus our size. “[The] four agencies come together to help students in these situations. We are here to facilitate, and to get you where you need to be. We are all on the same team trying to combat problems such as stalking.”
The panel advised that knowledge of stalking and its behaviors can help in prevention. Adding variety to your daily routines is a great way to pursue safety and prevention because having a predictable routine can make you an easy target.

Frequent and unwanted behaviors from another person that might seem like a coincidence, probably isn’t a coincidence. Fix said, “Listen to your gut and don’t be afraid to speak up.”

Andersen said, “It’s OK to say no to any behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to be taken personally, and it shouldn’t matter if you’re male or female. Setting boundaries is necessary, and healthy, in relationships.”

The number of females who identify as stalkers has jumped from 13 percent to 20 percent in the last year, leaving the other 80 percent as males. A stalker could be anyone, but generally it’s someone you know in some way, shape or form.

The panel encouraged students to reach out if in a dangerous situation. These services and agencies are more than equipped to help. Stop into their offices or simply call and they will help get you where you need to be.


UNK services offered

The Women’s Center and UNK PD are both equipped to help students with stalking and various other situations they might encounter.

The UNK campus offers a wide variety of services to its students. When it comes to health and safety services alone, the university provides Title IX training, sexual assault prevention and misconduct, counseling and health care, emergency planning and UNK alert and security reports through the annual Clery Report.

Title IX training is an online course that is free and takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. The student training talks about sexual assault prevention, including domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and by-stander behavior.

UNK takes pride in offering students access to quality, convenient and affordable health care. It’s important for students to feel safe on campus and can be a vital part of their overall success.
 
To maintain a healthy mind and body while at UNK, there are four offices to help students. The Counseling Center, Student Health, Health Education and Women’s Center are all readily available for students to use.

Location, operation hours and more information about these services can be found on
www.unk.edu.