Women's Center

Consent is BAE, #WCTOMEThe Women's Center is a part of the Student Health and Counseling Department, and offers the following services to all students:

  • campus and community-wide programming and education on gender equality
  • access to resources, a safe place to voice concerns/questions/ideas
  • a safe space for LGBTQIA+ community and advocates
  • counseling by a licensed mental health counselor
  • referrals to community and campus resources
  • central point of contact for survivors of sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, or domestic abuse

For more up-to-date information on current programming and events, follow us on Twitter @WomensCenterUNK or like us on Facebook!

What We Do

Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities operated by recipients of Federal financial assistance. Sexual harassment of students, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX. Sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will, or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim’s use of drugs or alcohol. An individual also may be unable to give consent due to an intellectual or other disability. A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sexual harassment covered under Title IX.

Title IX states:  "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Who does Title IX apply to? 
Title IX applies to all educational institutions, both public and private, that receive federal funds. This means all students, faculty and staff are protected by Title IX. 

Who is responsible for enforcing Title IX?
Compliance with Title IX is a shared responsibility of an entire institution, from top-level administration to individual staff members. Institutions are required to investigate any complaints of gender discrimination. In addition, all students and employees must be notified of the name, office address and telephone number of the designated Title IX coordinator.  

UNK’s Title IX Officer is: 

Mary Chinnock Petroski
Title IX Coordinator
1200 Warner Hall
(308) 865-8655


Who is responsible for reporting Title IX?

Responsible Employees:

With the exception of those specifically designated as confidential resources, all UNK employees are required to report incidents of sexual misconduct they witness or learn of in the course of employment.  Employees who are in a supervisory, managerial, or upper administrative role are what Title IX terms “Responsible Employees”.  Responsible Employees are required to report incidents of sexual misconduct to the Title IX coordinator’s office.  Employees who are not designated as “Responsible Employees” under Title IX, are required to report sexual misconduct incidents to their supervisors, however, they may also report incidents to the Title IX office.

Bystander Intervention

No More Silence

Creating a campus culture in which our students feel safe is imperative to our students’ academic and personal success. Lopers look out for one another by being active bystanders. The Women’s Center works collaboratively with both the UNK Health Promotion office and UNK Counseling to teach students how to get help or how to intervene in risky situations. We are proud of our students for supporting each other’s well-being, by safely confronting behaviors that are disrespectful or potentially harmful. Staff members in the Women’s Center and Health Education office have been trained in the Bringing in the Bystander approach to bystander intervention. Please contact us at womenscenter@unk.edu for more information.

What is sexual assault?

Conduct of indecent or sexual nature towards another person, accompanied by actual or threatening physical force upon a person without consent. Or, it is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving consent due to age, physical, or mental incapacity.

How does the Women's Center help survivors?

The way I dress is not a yes, #WCTOMEThe Women's Center staff is prepared to help students that need guidance or simply need answers to their questions. The Women's Center is connected to many different resources on campus and in the community to give survivors the support and care they may need. Our office can connect survivors with services in UNK Counseling, the Kearney S.A.F.E. Center, or refer to Title IX for reporting options. A victim advocate from the S.A.F.E. Center is available to meet confidentially with students at the Women's Center. If you would like to speak with the victim advocate, email us to set up an appointment at womenscenter@unk.edu

How does the Women's Center help prevent sexual assault on our campus?

The Women's Center collaborates with different offices, student organizations, and clubs to educate students on the realities of sexual assault and give guidance as to how to intervene in these situations. The Women's Center chooses programs that will engage students to educate and empower them to help prevent sexual assault on our campus. 

What should I do if I have been, or know someone who, has been sexually assaulted?

It is always up to the survivor what resources they would like to utilize. We recommend receiving a medical exam after an assault, to consult with a nurse or doctor about related issues, even if there are no visible physical wounds. The Family Advocacy Network (FAN) in Kearney provides medical exams to survivors.

Family Advocacy Network (FAN): (308) 865-7492 
UNK Student Health: (308) 865-8218
Good Samaritan Hospital: (308) 865-7100

If you would like to discuss options for pursuing an investigation or pressing charges, please contact the UNK Campus Police or Kearney Police Department. You can also contact the Victim/Witness Assistance Unit at the Kearney Police Department.

UNK Police Department: (308) 865-8911
Kearney Police Department: (308) 237-2104
If you are in immediate danger please call 911.

Sexual assault can be a highly traumatic event. We encourage you to speak to someone about what happened. The Women's Center staff is here to comfort, help, and answer any questions you may have. We also encourage you to speak with a counselor to help you cope with the physical and emotional effects of sexual assault.

A Client Advocate, from the S.A.F.E. Center, is available every Friday, from 9:30 am-12 pm in the UNK Women's Center. The advocate is a confidential source for support and connections with resources.

UNK Counseling: (308) 865-8248
S.A.F.E. Center: (308) 237-2599

For more information on how to help a friend or loved one, please visit: https://www.rainn.org/articles/tips-talking-survivors-sexual-assault

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, we encourage you to contact us at womenscenter@unk.edu or (308) 865-8279. We believe you. 

What is dating (domestic) violence?

Relationship violence or dating abuse is a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner. 

What are some behaviors commonly found in abusive relationships?

There are many different types of relationship abuse and many different ways that an abuser may try to exert power over another. 

  • Emotional abuse: calling names, yelling and screaming, verbal threats to harm you or people you care about, preventing you from seeing other friends or family, telling you what to do or wear, making you feel guilty or immature when you do not consent to a sexual activity
  • Physical abuse: any type of physical violence used against a victim. Grabbing your face to force you to look at them, forcing you to have sex or perform sexual acts, and using any type of weapon are also forms of physical abuse.
  • Financial abuse: constricting your financial freedoms in any way. This may include not permitting you to work or limiting your hours, hiding or stealing your income of any kind, or using your credit cards without permission.
  • Sexual abuse: any form of unwanted sexual contact. This may include unwanted kissing or touching, rape, refusing to use condoms or other forms of birth control, threatening unwanted sexual activity, or forbidding a victim from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections. 
  • Cyber abuse: any form of control or exploitation through technology. This may include not allowing you to friend people on Facebook or follow someone on Twitter, constantly texting or calling, tracking you using GPS, forcing you to send explicit photos, stealing passwords, or going through your phone often.

What does the Women's Center do to prevent dating violence on our campus?

Stop the Violence. #WCTOMEThe Women's Center collaborates with other offices, student organizations, and clubs to educate and empower students to prevent dating violence. Our office also provides healthy relationship presentations to undergraduate classes, educating students on the warning signs of dating violence, coercive control, stalking and what a healthy relationship looks like.

What should I do if I or someone I know is experiencing relationship violence?

If you or someone you know is experiencing relationship violence, find a trusted person you can talk to. The most important step is finding someone you can confide in that can help you. If you feel like you are in immediate danger, please call 911. 

If you do not feel comfortable telling someone in your life, you can always reach out to campus and community services that provide counseling and resources for relationship violence.

UNK Women's Center: (308) 865-8279
UNK Counseling: (308) 865-8248
S.A.F.E. Center: (308) 237-2599 
Family Advocacy Center (FAN): (308) 865-7492

If you want to contact authorities or take legal action, please contact campus police or the community police.

UNK Police Department: (308) 865-8911
Kearney Police Department: (308) 237-2104

What is stalking?

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, stalking is defined as "a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact or any other conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear."

What are stalking behaviors?

Since stalkers are often someone you know, stalking behaviors may not seem odd or make you uncomfortable in the beginning. Stalking behaviors often escalate rapidly; it is necessary to be vigilant and look out for things that make you uncomfortable. 

Stalking behaviors may include showing up at your work or other places you go on a regular basis, repeated phone calls, sending unwanted gifts, Internet stalking, contacting friends and family to get to you, destruction of your property, violence, including threats of violence, and constant, unwanted contact of any kind. 

What should I do if I or someone I know is being stalked?

If you feel like you or your friend is in immediate danger, call 911. 

A great tool to use when dealing with a stalker is to keep a stalking incident log. Because stalking is a hard crime to prosecute, a log can help prove the frequency and duration of these behaviors. A log can also help reassure the victim that these behaviors are not normal. It is best to also save anything a stalker may send you. Keep any letters or notes from the person and also any communication via technology. If friends or family also witness any of these behaviors, have them also write in the log.

It is also best to make a safety plan in the case that they follow you home or show up somewhere abruptly and you are in danger. Telling family members, employers, and friends can help to make the people in your life aware of the situation.

The best way to end these behaviors is to get police involved.

UNK Police Department: (308) 865-8911
Kearney Police Department: (308) 237-2104 

Additional resources and information

Eating Disorders

The transition to college life brings with it many joys and stressors. Leaving home, making new friends, academic pressures and searching for a sense of belonging can lead to increased stress and anxiety. This may also be a period of development when negative body image or disordered eating arise, recur or worsen for many students. Research shows that many college students have attempted to control their weight through dieting (Walden Center) and that dieting can often lead to a full blown eating disorder. Eating disorders typically begin between the ages of 18 and 21 (Hudson, 2007) and affect all races, ethnicities, and genders.

Given that eating disorders are the mental illness with the highest mortality rate (Arcelus, 2011), early detection, intervention and treatment is extremely important and gives an individual the best chance of recovery.  Help-seeking decreases significantly when people are not aware of the options available to them (Ben-Porath, 2002; Friedman, 2009; Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006; Gould, 2007). Taken from: National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

How do I get help for an eating disorder?

Getting help can be scary yet it is essential to recovery. Please contact UNK Counseling at (308) 865-8248 for an appointment with a mental health counselor. Or, if you believe you may have an eating disorder, please take this free and confidential screening:  https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/screening-tool

If you know someone who might have an eating disorder...

Many people are affected by someone in their life who has an eating disorder and knowing how to help them is difficult. We recommend you take some time to read the following information in the link provided on how to help a loved one with an eating disorder: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/help


For more information on eating disorders, please visit the National Eating Disorders Association website at https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

What is human trafficking?

"Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that occurs in every state, including Nebraska. The NHTRC works closely with service providers, law enforcement, and other professionals in Nebraska to serve victims and survivors of trafficking, respond to human trafficking cases, and share information and resources."  Taken from The National Human Trafficking Hotline

For more information and resources about human trafficking, please visit the following websites:

National Human Trafficking Hotline: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/state/nebraska

Polaris Project: http://polarisproject.org/resources/NowWeKnow

Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force: https://ago.nebraska.gov/combatting-human-trafficking

The Women's Center is a safe space for all students, including LGBTQ students. The Women's Center is an ally for the LGBTQ community Lavender Graduation pictureand actively advocates for the inclusion of all students. At the end of the spring semester each year, the Women's Center hosts a Lavender Graduation reception, to honor and to celebrate, the accomplishments of our LGBTQ students who are graduating. For more information about the origin of Lavender Graduation, please visit: https://www.hrc.org/resources/lavender-graduation

The Women's Center engages male students as allies in                                      preventing gender violence,Men's Project logo through the UNK Men's Project. The Men's Project consists of students, identifying as male, who are viewed as leaders on our campus and in our community.  Participants meet weekly for eleven weeks during the spring semester. to self-reflect on and discuss issues such as: toxic masculinity, male privilege, dating violence, rape culture, and other related topics. Participants are chosen through a nomination process. For more information, please email the Women's Center at womenscenter@unk.edu