Katie Koestner, an advocate for the prevention of sexual assault, spoke to East Mississippi Community College students and employees, as well as members of the community, last week in the Stennis Auditorium on the Scooba campus.

School photo
Katie Koestner, an advocate for the prevention of sexual assault, spoke to East Mississippi Community College students and employees, as well as members of the community, last week in the Stennis Auditorium on the Scooba campus. School photo
From school reports



A renowned speaker who has dedicated her life’s work to preventing sexual assault brought her message to East Mississippi Community College’s Stennis Auditorium last Wednesday night.

Katie Koestner, executive director of Take Back The Night Foundation and president of Campus Outreach Services, spoke to close to 400 people that included EMCC students and employees, as well as members of the community.

“We are committed to ensuring the safety of our students and they need to be aware that there are steps they can take to reduce the risk of sexual assault,” EMCC Dean of Student Affairs Tony Montgomery said. “We feel there is no one more qualified to speak on the topic than Katie Koestner.”

In 1990, the term “date rape” was seared into the nation’s consciousness when Koestner, who was 18 at the time, went public with accusations that she had been sexually assaulted by a fellow student at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. The story garnered national media attention and on June 3, 1991, she was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine.

Since then, Koestner has been featured in dozens of media outlets, including the Oprah Winfrey Show, NBC Nightly News and Good Morning America. Her testimony on Capitol Hill was instrumental in passage of federal student safety legislation. She has lectured at more than 1,700 schools in North America, spoken to officials at the U.S. Department of Defense and to leaders of Fortune 500 Companies.

Wednesday, Koestner shared her personal story with those who attended the event at EMCC. She urged students to be assertive when dealing with unwanted sexual advances.

 “To victims of rape who are afraid to speak out, my encouragement is to find the strength to do it,” Koestner said.

She cautioned about the dangers of alcohol consumption and asked the students what they would do if they saw an intoxicated girl at a bar or party who was accosted by an intoxicated male.

“What if you go over there and she says she is fine?” Koestner asked. “Neither can give their consent if they are both drunk. That’s the law. It is better to get everybody home safe. I know it (intervening) may mess up a night but it doesn’t mess up a life.”

Following the presentation, the students were shown an HBO documentary about Koestner while she met with EMCC faculty, staff, coaches and residential advisors to talk about the warning signs displayed by victims of sexual assault and what steps to take if a rape, or suspected rape, has occurred.

EMCC sophomore Mallory Vance said Koestner’s message was one that needed to be heard.

 “Her coming here to discuss it shines a light on something not a lot of people want to talk about,” Vance said.

EMCC Honors Program Director Scott Baine agreed.

“I think her message resonated with folks because there are people that are hurting and they don’t know what steps to take,” Baine said. “The information she shared is good for all of us to know because you need to be prepared for whatever situation might happen.”

EMCC softball coach Kyndall White called Koestner’s presentation “huge.”

 “I think it is very important for us to know how to handle these issues,” White said. “This is about the safety of our kids. This is our job.”