Change program educates on gender equality

Jamie wore hers for a friend.  Seth wore his for a colleague.  Linda wore hers to educate others. Kelsey wore hers for a family member. Sanjukta wore hers for all her students. 

Castleton students sported black Got Consent? shirts Sept. 27 to show their support for the CHANGE (Creating, Honoring, Advocating and Nurturing Gender Equality) program and anyone who may be a victim of sexual assault or abuse.

The shirts had white writing stating “Got Consent? Without consent, it’s not sex.” They showed up throughout the day all over the campus like black and white splotches.  

The CHANGE program is meant to make students aware of gender inequity and how dating situations can lead to abuse or rape.

According to, one in three women will be raped, abused or beaten in her lifetime. 

Organizers said The Got Consent? Day was a campus-wide success with more than 100 faculty and students wearing Got Consent? shirts. The CHANGE office even ran out of shirts even after specifically ordering more for the event.

“I do it to protect the safety of my students,” Sanjutka Ghosh, a communications teacher here at Castleton, said about wearing her shirt and being a part of the CHANGE Initiative.

Ghosh added that sexual assault is not only a serious crime, but can create health issues for like sexually transmitted diseases.    

With a new coordinator, the CHANGE program plans to host more awareness events this semester and into the spring as well as doing more skits and plays around campus to inform all incoming students how to avoid dangerous situations. 

Amy Bremel, the new CHANGE initiative coordinator, said she’s excited to be a part of the Castleton community. Her new job entails creating awareness, being an advocate for victims and organizing CHANGE events. 

Bremel, who moved to Vermont from Wisconsin with her husband and three kids, said she is finally starting to settle in after her first few weeks. 

“It was like somebody wrote this position for me,” Bremel said with a beaming smile while almost jumping out of her seat like she’d won the lottery.  “I’ve spent years working with victims of all ages. It’s become my life work and my passion.”

Students like senior Chris Kiernan are also involved in CHANGE through Peer Advocate for CHANGE (PAC) programs and campaigns. 

“I’m a protector and I always have been,” Kiernan said stating that PAC and CHANGE have taught him ways to properly protect people while avoiding altercations.  

This year marks Brittany Lafirira’s third year as a member of the program and she hopes even after college to continue to stay involved in the CHANGE initiative.

“I would like to be part of a change and make a difference for someone else,” she said. 

The creator of CHANGE, Linda Olson, said she was pleased to see so much support from the students and faculty on Got Consent? Day.  She also called Bremel a “fantastic addition” to the CHANGE team. 

Since she started the program 2002, Olson said she has been working to change campus culture and create awareness in the Castleton community.  She said she is proud of what the program has become and how it has grown – but  she wants more. 

“The more students that get involved the better!”


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