As a way of raising awareness about improving response to sexual assault in the Hays community, three Fort Hays State University students recently took part in the "Coming of Age" radio program at Eagle Communications in Hays, hosted by Mike Cooper and Harry Watts.
Christa Bergmann, Concordia senior, Lanee Lausch, Scott City junior, and Ashley Neuburger, Hays senior, were on the program with Christie Brungardt, instructor of leadership studies, and Charlotte Linsner from Northwest Kansas Domestic and Sexual Violence Services.
For the past two semesters, Brungardt said, student teams from the Fieldwork in Leadership Studies class have worked on improving response to sexual assault in the Hays community.
Currently, if anyone is sexually assaulted in Hays and wants to pursue legal avenues, he or she must travel to Salina for the closest Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and Sexual Assault Response Team programs. If SANE and SART programs are brought to the Hays community, that 90-mile drive would no longer be necessary.
"Students have worked with the state SANE and SART programs and those in communities from across the state, the Hays Medical Center, the Hays Police, the Ellis County attorney and many interested representatives from the Hays community on establishing a SANE and SART program locally," said Brungardt.
According to her, the SANE program is the medical side of the process, which includes a forensic examination done by a certified nurse so that evidence will be strong enough to hold up in court.
Brungardt also said SANE is "about taking care of the victim from a medical standpoint."
SART, on the other hand, is the response to the sexual assault, and this program is what the team from this semester focused on. A group of students worked last semester on implementing a SANE program at Hays Medical Center, which Brungardt said is in process.
"The students' overall goal [this semester] was to raise community awareness about SANE and SART and what the community can do to have a better, more efficient response to sexual assault in Ellis County," said Brungardt.