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Georgia State creates a safe space for student victims

Throughout college, many students worry about safety both on and off campus. To help combat this fear, Georgia State is introducing a new resource for students: Blue Table Safety Talk.

These talks will cover a range of topics, from sexual misconduct to domestic violence, led by Student Victim Assistance, an organization at Georgia State that helps students who have been victims of crime or violence maintain their mental health and provide the necessary resources.

The first talk, which was held on Sept. 5 on the Clarkston campus, was a discussion about gun violence, both on and off campus.

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“The vibe in our first Blue Table Talk was relaxed and engaging,” Student Victim Assistance Coordinator Kimberly McNeal said. “The students had questions and participated as far as sharing their own personal stories and asking questions of the panelists.”

The talk had two panelists, Lieutenant Kimberly McClenton, an officer from the Georgia State University Police Department on the Clarkston campus, and Aric Johnson, a licensed social worker and the Community Resources Coordinator at Grady Health System, who works with victims of gun violence and the trauma that results from it. 

McClinton talked to the students about campus safety, guns on campus and which laws come into play. Johnson shared his personal and professional experience about gun violence and gave students resources for counseling to help with any resulting trauma.

These university-wide talks will be held once a month on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each talk will include a panelists of experts to help guide the students through tough times.

At the next talk on Oct. 5 on the Clarkston campus, domestic violence will be the focus. According to McNeal, the talk will break down the different types of domestic violence and how it can affect students while also looking at what a healthy relationship might look like. 

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The talk will also include panelists Elisa Covarrubias, director of the sexual assualt and victim advocacy program at Live Safe Resources, a non-profit organization based in Georgia that provides resources for domestic violence and sexual assault, and Jill Schirling-Allison, the managing legal advocate at Partnership Against Domestic Violence.  

McNeal hopes that these talks will positively affect students by giving them an open space to speak about their problems and find resources in Georgia State. 

“College is already hard to go through,” McNeal said. “A lot of students are also dealing with other stressors as well, and it is helpful for them to come in and have this dialogue about their situations but to also learn about the resources not only at Georgia State, but in the surrounding communities.”