Sexual assault activist Katie Koestner was once on the cover of Time magazine, but it was not for a reason she would have liked.

She shared her personal story of the time she was sexually assaulted in college with the Elon University community on April 22 in Alumni Gym.

Koestner said that sexual assault can happen anywhere, but she emphasized how often it tends to happen on college campuses.

Sophomore Jimmy Reardon is a member of the Elon chapter of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and is the organization’s vice president for risk management. He recognized that sexual assault not only tends to happen more frequently on college campuses but that men in fraternities are typically the perpetrators.

“It is overwhelmingly men who do it,” Reardon said. “As men in a fraternity, we wanted to say we recognize this is a problem, since it is usually our demographic that does this. We want to take a step to say we are against this and how to help victims get help.”

According to Reardon, the fraternity had some extra money in its funds that it typically allocates to programming or recruitment. This time, the fraternity wanted to do something different and impactful. “We wanted to bring a speaker on sexual assault,” Reardon said. “It happens all around the country and it’s a big issue with party scenes. We wanted to take a step toward moving in the right direction. We started reaching out and did not want to be cheap. We wanted someone that had notoriety and been around the country.”

Reardon remembered Koestner had spoken at his high school, and his mother was able to help him get in contact with her through her own connections. 

It took four months of planning and some help of others in the Interfraternity Council to welcome Koestner to campus.

Vice President for Student Life Jon Dooley introduced her and per her request asked those in attendance to take off any hats or hoodies they were wearing and not to take pictures while she spoke. 

She began to tell the story of the time she was sexually assaulted by someone she liked at her university, College of William & Mary. Koestner was descriptive when telling her story, from the moment she met him down to what they were both wearing the night it happened.

She paused before saying she did not want to talk about what happened next, but she knew that it was the most important part. 

She continued to speak about her sexual assault and how she went to various people to tell them about what happened to her, many of which wanted to blame her for it, including her father. 

Koestner even mentioned the dean, who was a woman. She asked her to reconsider the trial because she was going to ruin the life of her perpetrator.

Her sexual assault and trial were what landed her on the cover of Time magazine in 1991.

She took a moment during her speech to acknowledge Reardon and thanked him for bringing her to speak at Elon.

“I was excited when Jimmy called me and said he remembered me speaking at his high school,” Koestner said. “He had the power to bring me here to speak to you. It is powerful that a man takes action to bring someone like me here.”

She concluded by urging everyone in the crowd to pick a cause they are passionate about and speak up about it.

“Stand for a cause,” Koestner said. “Don’t be silent because that’s always the easy way out.”