November 27, 2019 at 4:11 p.m.

Bulldog advocate

JCHS graduate helps offer guidance, resources at Butler
Bulldog advocate
Bulldog advocate

By Rose Skelly-

It’s hard to talk about.

And it may be difficult to seek help for oneself or a friend.

But a Jay County High School graduate is spending her senior year in college helping shed light on issues relating to sexual assault and unhealthy relationships.

Emma Laux, who is studying strategic communications and psychology at Butler University in Indianapolis, is working as the school’s advocacy fellow in the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Office.

She provides guidance and resources to students who may be experiencing problems related to sexual assault, relationship issues and mental health concerns. The goal of her job is to provide a way for students to have difficult conversations about potentially uncomfortable topics.

“Maybe we don’t really want to talk about these things, but they’re very prevalent in society and on college campuses,” Laux said. “I think just having a greater awareness and definitely (an) across-campus type of platform, where we can start these conversations or further these conversations, is kind of the goal for this position.”

Often, those conversations start on the fellowship’s Instagram and Twitter accounts. While she hosts office hours a couple times a week, Laux found that online communication is often more appealing to students.

“I find that a lot of students really love the Instagram account and that’s usually where I get a lot of conversations started or just comments through that,” Laux said. “There’s a lot of emotions, complex emotions that could go into needing resources through my position, so I am very grateful that I have the social media that can allow students to feel even more comfortable to reach out for help.”

It’s a relatively new role; Laux, who started in the position in August, is only the school’s second advocacy fellow. As such, she’s been able to exercise creativity in coming up with workshops, her social media posts and picking specific topics to focus on.

She’s also prioritized reaching out to students in the LGBTQ community and from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds who may have been missed by past education efforts. Last year, fraternities, sororities and athletes received several workshops; Laux wants to reach the students who may have fallen through the cracks.

She also helped facilitate sexual assault prevention workshops, which are now mandatory for new students.

“We did a workshop with all of the incoming freshman students, about consent and what that looks like in platonic or romantic relationships, communicating your wants and needs, and how to navigate unhealthy relationships in your own life or maybe in friends’ or those around you,” Laux said. “And how to help in those situations or recognize that for yourself and get help for yourself as well.”

Throughout the fall semester, she’s hosted several optional workshops for students focusing on topics such as safety while using dating apps and “The Bachelorette” reality television series. The latter event was “wildly popular,” Laux said, with students exploring how the show romanticized problematic behavior.

“There’s one character (who was) … a textbook toxic, very kind of emotionally abusive and manipulative person,” Laux said. “We looked at different clips of his behavior and talked about what might be problematic or what should have been done, or things like that. So students really got into that, and really loved that one. That was a very successful event.”

Reaching out to students is important because some may hold misconceptions about sexual assault and healthy relationships, Laux pointed out. They may be uncomfortable discussing these topics, or may not realize how common they are.

“I don’t think anyone is immune from (them), whether it’s a friend or someone they know or a family member or neighbor, someone you care about has been touched by these issues, whether people know it or not,” Laux said. “Students are more open about talking about these things, so I definitely have known people who have struggled with some of these issues.”

The 21-year-old plans to stay in the Indianapolis area working in a marketing or advertising role after she graduates in May. The fellowship has given her the opportunity to combine her career aspirations with her passion to help others.

“Mixing and marrying the two has been just kind of a dream for me this year. And it’s easy to do the work because I am very passionate about it,” Laux said. “I ultimately see myself, whether it’s out of college or down the road, working for a nonprofit or like in my spare time, working with advocacy groups for different social issues. That’s something that I never want to go away in my life; I want that to always be there.”

Ultimately, it’s her hometown roots that help motivate her to be an educator and resource for her fellow students. It’s a big responsibility, but it means a lot to her.

“I have felt like, even growing up in Jay County, I always had a support system, whether it was family or friends, or the small town community … And I realized how important just one person can be,” Laux said. “I want to be that person for people who might not be so fortunate to have that support … It’s very humbling and fulfilling and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else my senior year.”



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