February 20, 2013

Student-athletes convene for special guest speaker


COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Just over 200 Golden Eagle student-athletes gathered recently to listen to guest speaker Katherine H. Koestner as she discussed the pressures of student life and the challenges to do the right thing and act as role models to fellow students on campus. 

Katie Koestner has presented to more than one million students in the United States and is Executive Director of Campus Outreach Services and Executive Director of Take Back the Night Foundation. Katie was the first victim of date rape to speak nationally and publicly. She told anyone who would listen about her experience at The College of William and Mary.

Katie appeared on the cover of Time magazine in June of 1991. HBO made a movie about her story in 1993. Katie has appeared on several morning, daytime and late night shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show, NBC Nightly News, and Good Morning America. Katie has also given interviews to countless national and regional publications, highlighted by the Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Tribune and the Journal of Higher Education.

Here is Golden Eagle softball senior Claudia Harke’s account of Katie’s story:

Just like any busy athlete about to start her senior season, time is a precious thing. We were required to attend a speaker, and to say I was hesitant about giving up my time would be an understatement. But after listening to Katie Koestner’s story, I think we all would love to have more speakers visit us on campus.

 Katie had a really strong message, and date rape is something that happens a lot more frequently than any of us really realized. She gave someone the chance to believe that we should say something, that we need to be the ones to step in and prevent abuse from happening. If we make the effort as prominent figures on campus, others will follow.

Ms. Koestner kept us interested throughout the speech using dry and sarcastic humor. It was a really controversial topic, but it was powerful and her approach made us comfortable which helped us actually learn from what she was saying.

When Katie started speaking, we all knew where it was leading, but we didn’t know how she would take us there. She transitioned from comedy to drama seamlessly and she used long pauses to emphasize how intense her experience was.

Throughout her talk, she specifically addressed the male athletes, challenging them to look at themselves and ask what they would do. She asked: If you’re at a party and you see a girl so drunk....as a guy, would you stand up to prevent someone from taking advantage, or would you just let it happen? She just hit home how one specific person can make a difference. It was pretty powerful, and it changes your life forever.

We can make a difference. In the college scene, stuff happens, but it doesn’t have to. It shouldn’t happen, we need to make a difference and prevent what happened to Katie from ever happening to anyone at Tech.

       -- Claudia Harke

It was clear that those who were in attendance were deeply impacted by Katie’s story. In a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Meeting afterwards, the representatives discussed the importance of gathering all of the student-athletes together at least once a semester for events like these. It really bonded the group, and highlighted the family atmosphere Tennessee Tech is able to create. They discussed how Katie could relate to what they lived on a daily basis, and that the topic was relevant to what students go through.

For more information on Katherine Koestner and Campus Outreach Services or Take Back the Night Foundation please visit the links below. 

Take Back the NightCampus Outreach Services