In recognition of Stalking Awareness Month, Mississippi State University Health Promotion and Wellness worked hard to bring awareness to stalking on campus with the help of donuts.
Every Wednesday of Jan. from 9-11 a.m., Health Promotion and Wellness ran tabling sessions in the Colvard Student Union as a part of their “Do’s and Donuts of Stalking” program. The different sessions have covered a variety of topics concerning stalking such as “Social Media & Stalking” and “Is Stalking A Crime?” among others. Health Promotion and Wellness members sought to inform students about stalking through statistics, scenarios and personal experiences. As an added bonus to the information provided at the sessions, students were offered complimentary donuts.
There is, however, more to the name “Do’s and Donuts” than just a catchy phrase and free donuts. Santee Ezell-Johnson, assistant director of Health Promotion and Wellness, an overseer for Sexual Assault Services and coordinator for the program, said that while the name is catchy, students need to pay attention to the literal do’s and do not’s to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
“We called it the 'Do’s and Donuts of Stalking' which seemed to be a pretty catchy name among students, but we want students to know that if they are being stalked, they should collect evidence, they should develop a safety plan and they should make sure their dorm room, house or apartment is safe,” Ezell-Johnson said. “I want students to know the facts about stalking and at least know what to watch out for.”
Ezell-Johnson not only wants this program to offer information to students who have been or are being stalked, but also to those who may not know much about the subject. Ezell-Johnson said she wants students to see both the reality and seriousness of stalking as well as inform them about the resources available to them on campus.
“We want students to know what stalking is and also let them know that there may come a time when they need to judge a situation and know that it could be potentially harmful. I mean, 18 to 24 is the most common age range of people that are stalked, and that is our college students,” Ezell-Johnson said. “We want these students to know that there are resources available to them. It is important to utilize not only Health Promotion and Wellness but all of the resources we have on campus.”
Maricus Walker, a graduate assistant for Health Promotion and Wellness, works with Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention programming and helped coordinate this month’s program. According to Walker, the biggest problem is lack of awareness, as stalking is something that often is taken lightly or ignored.
“I feel like stalking is a problem that is not taken seriously,” Walker said. “Stalking is a crime in all 50 states, but a lot of people don’t know that. The majority of students that I talk to say stalking is not a big deal or that the stalker will not do anything, but it can lead up to that. I try to reiterate that in the programming.”
Walker said he has enjoyed working the tabling sessions and has seen the success of the programming firsthand through his conversations with students.
“We have some students very intrigued by it, some that even have been stalked,” Walker said. “If they share that with me, I ask them what they did about it or whether or not they went to authorities and these students give me feedback. I love doing this and helping these students, and we have reached over 100 students this month so far, so I feel we are doing a pretty good job.”
Among the students reached by the program was Andrew Lund, a junior chemical engineering major. According to Lund, the programming brought awareness to a topic he had thought very little about beforehand.
“I thought I knew a good deal about stalking, but I never really considered that I could be stalked and I just assumed I never would be, so I didn’t think about resources or a plan in case that did happen,” Lund said. “I think the program is really good as it addresses this important topic.”