OGDEN, Utah – After two days of service, cultural activities and its annual business meeting hosted at Southern Utah University, the Big Sky Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) left determined to raise sexual-assault awareness on campus and in their respective communities.
The student-athletes represented were selected by their institution as leaders on campus and serve as Presidents and Vice Presidents of their institutional SAAC. The two-day sessions began with the SAAC and advisors cleaning, landscaping and painting the parking lot at a local women’s crisis center before attending their general business meeting.
The session was capped off with presentations from Ted Bunch and Brenda Tracy. Bunch is the co-founder of A Call To Men, an organization that seeks to promote a healthy and respectful manhood and shift attitudes and behaviors that devalue women, girls and other marginalized groups. Tracy is a nurse, mother, activist, and survivor of campus sexual violence. Tracy also serves on the NCAA Board of Governors Commission to Combat Sexual Violence.
As a result of the two presentations, the Big Sky SAAC created a blueprint for a conference-wide SAAC initiative aimed at raising awareness and providing education to address sexual violence on each Big Sky campus.
The SAAC elected to evolve the purpose and criteria of the traveling Big Sky SAAC Cup to encourage Big Sky student-athletes to address and prevent sexual violence on campus. Institutions will be evaluated for efforts in the three phases of the “Set The Expectation” campaign: Commitment, Building Awareness Through Sport, and Education.
The winner of the 2017-18 SAAC Cup will also be determined by a panel that includes Big Sky Commissioner Andrea Williams, Brenda Tracy and the members on the executive SAAC committee.
“First off, I am extremely proud of the Big Sky Conference,” said Tracy. “There is not another athletic conference out there whose athletes have taken on a conference-wide initiative to campaign against sexual assault and violence, at least not in this specific way. The fact that they would take on my campaign is such a huge honor for me. To see these young SAAC members take ahold of this campaign and turn it into something that is going to save lives is really amazing.”
“The important work that is happening in conferences today really helps us lift up the next generation of leadership on our campuses,” said Bunch. “The Big Sky is a pioneer by addressing the issue of sexual assault and promoting healthy respectful men. Hopefully they can set the precedent for other schools and conferences to follow.”
Big Sky SAAC President Nicole Sherwin is thrilled with the amount of influence SAAC has achieved during this year’s SAAC meetings.
“It’s exciting because our student-athletes are taking the initiative,” said Sherwin. “We’re seeing what we envision actually take place and it’s exciting to be listened to on these issues. It’s great that the SAAC Cup is able to evolve to something that we are more and more passionate about with each coming year.”
SAAC members from around the Big Sky Conference will lead the campaign against sexual violence in a variety of ways and would like to encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with the #SetTheExpectation and #ACallToMen movements by visiting Ted Bunch and Brenda Tracy’s websites.