Sharing Kristin’s Story

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Sharing Kristin’s Story

Story by Kyle Davis

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Baker University sophomore Hannah Schaake knows Kristin Cooper’s story well.

It is a story that members of the Omicron chapter of Alpha Chi Omega sorority are told each year during recruitment and one Kristin’s mother, Andrea, has spent years sharing with college students around the country.

Andrea Cooper, who is a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority, will speak at 6 p.m. Sunday in Rice Auditorium to tell her daughter’s story once again, 15 years after Kristin, who was a member of Alpha Chi Omega at Baker University, died.

Kristin was acquaintance raped during the summer before her sophomore year in her home state of Colorado, and after suffering from depression, committed suicide at her home that winter.

 ”I think it’s extremely important and good that (Andrea is) continuing to do it just because those issues are still, unfortunately, really prevalent today,” Elaine McCullough, who was a sorority sister of Kristin’s at Baker, said.

McCullough is a member of the advisory board for the Omicron chapter of Alpha Chi Omega and lived in the same room at Alpha Chi Omega as Kristin. McCullough was one of two people Kristin initially told about the rape.

For McCullough, it is important to make people aware of what they can do if an event like what happened to Kristin were to happen.

“We feel so safe (at Baker), you know, and it is it’s own little world, kind of enclosed,” McCullough said, “but yeah, that’s why I always want Andrea to come back and speak because it’s just important to have a reminder that that stuff does happen.”

University Minister Ira DeSpain was at the Alpha Chi Omega house the day members of the sorority returned to Baker for Interterm. DeSpain broke the news to them about Kristin’s death and called it “a really, really long day in my life.”

DeSpain, McCullough and a small group from Baker traveled to Kristin’s funeral in Colorado, and a week later, a memorial service for Kristin was held in McKibbon Recital Hall.

During the fall semester before Kristin’s death, McCullough and other members of the sorority tried to get help for Kristin, but were unsuccessful. DeSpain believes in the importance of having people to talk to for those in need.

 ”One of the big issues, of course, is people who are violated or people who are attacked need to understand that it’s not their fault and sometimes that’s something that people aren’t able to grasp,” DeSpain said.

Schaake applied for, and received, a grant last semester, while holding the position of the Student Activities Council Impact Coordinator, which helped to bring Andrea Cooper to Baker. Sunday will be the first time in five years Andrea Cooper has spoken to Baker students.

“I think it has always been a goal of Omicron for her to be here as much as she possibly can,” Schaake said.

While Kristin’s memory remains at Baker through her composite picture that rests in the Alpha Chi Omega house and the tree planted in her memory that  resides near the Osborne Chapel, her story will be told once again Sunday by the person who has been telling the story for years.

“Just when you hear Andrea speak and you hear her story, it definitely makes you think and raises awareness and sticks with you,” McCullough said. “It’s not something that anyone who sees it is going to soon forget.”

Whether members of the audience in Rice Auditorium have heard the story before, or are hearing it for the first time, DeSpain believes people need to hear Kristin’s story.

“As long as there are people that are victimized in the world, then the story needs to be told.”