WT’s Start by Believing Campaign to Relaunch with Panel Discussion, Free Dinner


CANYON, Texas—End Violence Against Women International estimates that 1 in 5 women have been sexually assaulted during their college years.

To help address that locally, West Texas A&M University will kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month at 6 p.m. April 10 in Legacy Hall in the Jack B. Kelley Student Center on the Canyon campus.

The event is free and open to the public.

Lt. Barbara Ferrara, master peace officer with the WT University Police Department, will speak at the event, which will relaunch WT’s “Start by Believing” campaign.

“Statistics for sexual assaults in the college setting tend to be slightly higher for various reasons including but not limited to myths, stereotypes and culture,” Ferrara said. “It is important for our whole community to learn about sexual assault if we are going to improve our response and support survivors.”

A panel Q&A will follow the presentation with a QR code available for audience members to anonymously submit questions.

The event will begin with a pancake dinner sponsored by Northwest Texas Healthcare System. Attendees also will be entered to win door prizes.

The Start by Believing campaign was launched by End Violence Against Women International in April 2011 and is designed to end the cycle of silence and change the way to which sexual assault is responded. The type of response a victim receives upon initially reporting a sexual assault determines whether they report to law enforcement and seek medical care, according to End Violence Against Women International.

Sponsors of the event include Northwest Texas Healthcare System, WT University Police Department, WT Distinguished Lecture Series, General Office Supply and the Randall County District Attorney’s office.

Door prizes were provided by WT Bookstore, Mickey’s Place, Blessed Buffalo, Joe Taco, Canyon Cake Company, Public House Steaks and United Supermarkets.

“I’m excited about the community engagement component as we cannot change without awareness and a commitment from everyone to do better,” Ferrera said. “We will have several resource tables at the event along with people from Counseling Services if anything is needed.”

Putting people first is a key component of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $120 million.