October 15, 2019

Stefanie Lucas-Waverly: Break the Cycle

Title IX Coordinator Stefanie Lucas-Waverly in front of Fairfax House. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Title IX Coordinator Stefanie Lucas-Waverly in front of Fairfax House. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

The Center for Prevention and Education (CPE) has rolled out a collection of events this October to promote National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Among them is Break the Cycle, a spin class co-hosted by Campus Recreation.

Though she’s an avid cyclist herself, Title IX Coordinator Stefanie Lucas-Waverly’s mission at UMW goes beyond exercise. Events like this highlight the importance of healthy relationships and preventing partner abuse. According to BreaktheCycle.org, nearly three out of every four Americans know someone who has experienced domestic violence.

The Violence Against Women Act has made great strides since it passed 25 years ago, but there’s always work to be done. The $300,000 grant Mary Washington received from the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women in 2016 has helped tremendously, Lucas-Waverly said, leading to CPE’s launch and more resources for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, including the You are Not Alone guide and a coordinated community response team.

“The grant also enabled us to hire Jaime Opanashuk, who works in the Talley Center,” said Lucas-Waverly. UMW’s confidential victims advocate and case manager, Opanashuk is a bridge between those who have experienced sexual assault, misconduct and domestic violence and their decision to seek counseling, legal advice or other options.

As for Lucas-Waverly, her student affairs background and passion for equal access to education primed her for her position, which monitors the University’s compliance with Title IX, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. She also ensures that all employees receive proper education and training and that UMW adheres to protocol when addressing a complaint.

“Our office serves all members of the Mary Washington community – faculty, staff and students,” said Lucas-Waverly. “We’re here to help and make sure you know you are not alone.”

 

Q: What brought you to UMW?
A: I’m originally from California and have slowly made my way east. My partner and I moved to Fredericksburg from Chicago two years ago, and it was excellent timing that the Title IX investigator position was open. I became the Title IX coordinator this past March.

Q: October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. What activities are planned?
A: We’ve partnered with Safe Zone, Campus Recreation, the Office of Disability Resources and several off-campus organizations like Empowerhouse and Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault to create events that promote healthy relationships. These include Pizza and Consent, an LGBTQ+ friendly interactive workshop, and Let’s Talk, a discussion about the risk factors faced by students with disabilities – who are almost twice as likely to experience sexual or domestic violence – and prevention. Learn more.

Q: Tell us about Step Up! and how we can get involved.
A: It’s an award-winning bystander intervention program that we launched at UMW in 2018. It covers all sorts of problematic situations, such as alcohol abuse, hazing, depression, discrimination, sexual assault, eating disorders and academic misconduct. Learn more.

Q: The work you do sounds emotionally taxing. How do you cope with it?
A: My partner and I love hiking and taking our dog on long walks. I’m also very invested in my yoga practice and love to cycle.

 

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