DECATUR — Aarron Cook knows how difficult it can be to capture the attention of college students.
Yet, he wanted to make sure they know about the importance of sexual assault awareness, a topic being discussed this week with presentations at Richland Community College.
So Cook, Richland’s director of security, helped to organize an event Monday that was sure to catch the attention of a lunchtime crowd in the cafeteria and get them thinking about how to crack the dangerous cycle of sexual assault.
Several daring faculty and staff members took turns smashing eggs over their heads in a game of Egg Roulette, inspired by Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show," Cook said. Each of the eggs, some hardboiled and others raw, cost $2 apiece, with proceeds benefiting the Growing Strong Sexual Assault Center in Decatur.
“Students have been rallying around this,” Cook said. “It’s a great time.”
Some of the participants were having more luck than others at finding the hardboiled eggs and avoiding a mess. But as Director of Nursing Shelly Baldwin found out with a jar full of money, those also came at a cost. Her head was getting sore as she was among those discovering a hardboiled egg can hurt.
Career Services Coordinator John Oliver tried spinning the eggs to test whether they were cooked but that didn’t seem to be foolproof as he was wiping splattered eggs from his hair and beard.
“There’s no way to know,” said Michael Diggs, coordinator of veterans’ affairs and student employment. “We’re sure taking our chances.”
Richland has held similar fundraising efforts for other causes, including whipped cream pies last year for the Community Food Drive.
“This is still better than whipped cream,” Vice President of Student Success Marcus Brown said as he took his turn wiping the remains of raw eggs from his face. He was relieved to catch a momentary break and find two hardboiled eggs in a row.
Others who participated included teachers Matt Cardinal, Jill Feinstein and Kristi Palmer, along with student trustee Ashley Ronda.
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The event raised $245 for Growing Strong, which made a presentation to students in the Mueller Student Center prior to the fundraiser. The information from that presentation, along with others throughout the week, is really what Cook is hoping students will remember.
“As fun as this is, there is a serious side,” Cook said. “Women, and men, are being sexually assaulted and it can be traumatizing for everyone. It can happen to anybody.”
Richland is partnering with Growing Strong to provide a resource for students to report incidents confidentially, Cook said. Students can go to the security office to be put in touch with the available resources, he said.
“We want them to know they have somewhere to go to be safe,” Cook said. “Resources like Growing Strong are available, even if they don’t have a huge billboard or signs. That’s why we want to help raise awareness about what they do.”
The agency serves Macon, Moultrie, Shelby, Piatt and DeWitt counties. It provides services such as a 24-hour help line, medical and legal advocacy, counseling and prevention education.
Staff, including legal/medical advocate Stefanie Moreau, led the presentation, showing videos about the importance of providing consent for sexual activities.
“We want them to know what consent looks like,” Moreau said. “For the people we meet with, we help them to know what their rights are and what their options are. Our services are free and confidential. We want to put the message out no means no.”
Ultimately, she said the goal would be to reduce the number of people who are sexually assaulted to zero.
The program is looking for volunteers, Moreau said.
Campus Safety and Security Awareness Week at Richland continues with presentations in the Mueller Student Center. Information about bystander intervention will be presented at 11:30 a.m. today, the National Guard will provide information about suicide prevention, anti-bullying and self-defense training from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday and the Decatur Police Department will talk about electronic harassment and personal safety from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday.
Cook said the college tries to provide information about different safety-related topics each September as part of National Safety and Security month.