February 19, 2020

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.


Purdy Contributes to National Study on Sexual Harassment and Assault

In her role as board member for the non-profit organization Stop Street Harassment (SSH), Britnae Purdy, Project Coordinator in the Office of Title IX, has contributed to a joint national study by SSH, UCSD Center on Gender Equity and Health (GEH), RALIANCE, CALCASA and Promundo.

The study, titled “Measuring #Metoo: A National Study on Sexual Harassment and Assault” includes findings that:

  • 81% of women and 43% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime.
  • The most frequently listed location for sexual harassment is a public space, while most sexual assault takes place in private homes or residences.
  • Sexual harassment and assault cause people, especially women, to feel anxiety or depression and prompt them to change their route or regular routine.
  • While experiences of sexual harassment and assault are highly prevalent, accusations of sexual harassment and assault are very rare.
  • Most people who said they committed sexual harassment also said they had experienced sexual harassment.

The release of this study came at the end of April’s national observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and serves as a follow-up study to the February 2018 report “The Facts Behind the #MeToo Movement: A National Study on Sexual Harassment and Assault.” 

Community-Wide Pop-Up Art Gallery

The Office of Title IX and Center for Prevention and Education, along with local partner Empowerhouse and student clubs Feminists United and SAVE, would like to invite the UMW community to participate in the I Can, We Can Pop-Up Gallery. This socially engaging art program challenges participants to reflect on what they can do, individually and as a community, to prevent domestic abuse and interpersonal violence. All UMW and Fredericksburg community members are invited to submit a work of art at bit.ly/fburgICAN by Friday, Feb. 9, and to join us in the Chandler Ballroom from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15 to enjoy a pop-up art gallery along with refreshments and hands-on activities.