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Ball State Launches Think About It
Posted by On Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Campus SaVE ActSchools often ask us about the experiences of other institutions using Think About It. They’re interested in learning how other schools implement the program, what incentives they use, and what feedback they get from students. This information helps them plan their own strategy to bring Think About It onto their campuses.

The Ball State Daily recently ran an in depth article about their launch of Think About It. The entire article is worth reading for anyone currently using or even thinking about our program. But below are some highlights.

According to the article, 86.7% of incoming freshman at Ball State completed the program in 2014. Amazingly, Ball State didn’t use any incentives besides sending weekly reminders.

As readers of this blog know, we designed Think About It with students for students. A critical part of the process was soliciting student input through numerous focus groups. After all, students have to be engaged in order to learn effectively.

Indeed, the student response was overwhelmingly positive according to Tom Gibson, the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, who was quoted in the article:

“I think the fact that the course allows students to provide feedback on their experience taking the course was very helpful and reaffirming for us,” Gibson said. “By and large the majority of the students who completed the course said, ‘I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t think I would find this useful, but you know what? It actually was. So thank you.’ We knew this was the right thing to do, but we didn’t know how well it would be received.”

According to Ball State, one of the advantages of an online program is that helps administrators deliver a single, unified and easily tracked experience to all their students.

Katie Slabaugh, Title IX coordinator for student affairs, said because of the way the program is designed, students aren’t able to just turn it on and walk away; they actually have to be engaged in it.

“The impact of this is that you know more than 85 percent of your new students have completed the course, whereas something that this residence hall may offer to this group of students is not necessarily the equivalent,” Slabaugh said. “This has the benefit of one unified piece of the student union.”

Of course, a one off program is not enough to create culture change on any campus. Federal regulations as well as pedagogical theory recommend that learning be “ongoing.” Students need the opportunity to revisit and deepen their understanding of key learning points. To this end, we offer follow up courses to the main course. Ball State is taking advantage of these resources by asking students to complete our main course and a shorter follow up course, providing students with an extended experience.

We also have numerous offline resources, such as workshops and posters that schools can use to bring the CampusClarity program from online to on campus. As the article also points out our partner on this project, the University of San Francisco, also continues to develop resources that expand the program.

“University of San Francisco is currently working on a Talk About It and a Do Something About It campaign, just trying to create more awareness and get student involvement in things like bystander intervention and really trying to create life-long awareness and involvement in causes like this,” said Deeqa Mohamed, a student peer educator at University of San Francisco.

As Mohamed says, the key here is to instill in students a life-long awareness and involvement in these issues.

After all, the years between 18 and 25 constitute a critical developmental stage, called “emerging adulthood.” In this stage, young men and women experience new levels of autonomy and experiment with possible life directions. Some educators even claim that the emotional and social development that college students undergo during this period exceeds their intellectual development.

By helping students at the start of their college careers, we can have a lasting impact on their lives.

 

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5 Key Takeaways from #NASPA15 to Improve Your Prevention Efforts
Posted by On Friday, March 27, 2015

NASPA was an incredible experience this year. Our discussions with other attendees and all the conference sessions were incredibly fruitful. We are continually impressed with the dedication, thoughtfulness, and expertise of the people working in Student Affairs. It’s a field full of dynamic, innovative practitioners, and, as a result, the field is evolving quickly.

Here are five things we took away from the conference this year.

1.) Don’t Silo Prevention Efforts

One of the most valuable takeaways of any conference like NASPA is the opportunity to share ideas with people not just from other institutions and companies but also people from different departments, initiatives, spaces. This sharing helps us collect new ideas and understand different perspectives. It also helps us discover unexpected synergies and partnerships.

We built Think About It to address both substance abuse and sexual violence prevention because research suggested the two issues were deeply interconnected. At USF, they saw this connection and understood that one course was necessary. Similarly, one message we heard again and again this year was the importance of seeing connections between different prevention efforts.

For example, in their presentation, “Hazing, Bullying, and Sexual Violence: Connecting the Dots for Prevention,” Jane Stapleton and Elizabeth Allan suggested that recent research has highlighted the interconnection between Hazing and Sexualized Violence. But while sexualized violence is an important topic and at the center of numerous initiatives on campuses across the country, hazing remains in the shadows. Allan and Stapleton’s thesis was that the kinds of campus or student cultures that encourage hazing also support sexualized violence, and therefore it was important to address the two together. According to Allan and Stapleton, both sexualized violence and hazing involve 1) power and control, 2) issues of consent, 3) rigid gender norms, 4) the normalization of maltreatment, and 5) community norms that silence victims.

Stapleton and Allan pointed attendees to the CDC’s excellent guide, “Connecting the Dots: An Overview of the Links Among Multiple Forms of Violence,” as a valuable starting point for practitioners interested in thinking through these interconnections.

2.) Offer Skills Based Trainings

We all know that getting student buy in can be difficult. At CampusClarity, we incorporate focus groups into our course development process to make sure that what we’re creating resonates with our target audience. Similarly, tailoring a workshop or seminar to your audience is an important way to improve student engagement.

One of the interesting strategies we heard at several sessions was framing training around gender violence, social identity, and bystander intervention in terms of general skills. University of Michigan’s bystander program, Change It Up, is a great example. They framed their bystander training as imparting leadership skills, and, in fact, changed those leadership skills based on the audience they were addressing. For instance, when they addressed Engineering students, they connected their training to Forbes’s list of the 10 qualities that make a great leader. Similarly, administrators at the University of Missouri talked about a course they offered for fraternity members on hypermasculinity. They called the course a “Trojan Horse” because they framed it as a class about leadership. Though they had participants read Michael Kimmel’s book Guyland, they also had the class read Becoming a Resonant Leader, a book on leadership and emotional intelligence that directly pertained to the skills they were teaching.

3.) Be Intentional in your Language

We tell students to be sensitive in the language they use, but it’s as important that we’re sensitive to our language so that we can serve as positive role models for our students. This recommendation isn’t new, but it bears repeating.

For example, in the University of Michigan’s bystander program, the coordinators intentionally chose the language “change it up” and “take action” instead of “step up” or “take a stand” in order to avoid ableist language.

Similarly, Stapleton and Allan talked about “sexualized” violence, not “sexual” violence. Stapleton felt that with the term sexual violence, people sometimes focus on “sexual,” dismissing an action because it was just “flirting” or just a “hook up.” Sexualized violence, on the other hand, places more emphasis on the violence, which becomes the core of the act.

In short, when crafting the language around our campaigns it’s important to be as inclusive and thoughtful as possible.

4.) Engage Student Leaders

We mentioned engaging students in training by tailoring the sessions to their interests. Another important way to engage students (or really any stakeholders) is to identify leaders and role models in the community and reach out to get them involved.

Nearly all the sessions we attended discussed this strategy in one way or another. A stand out example was Occidental College’s Project Safe, a prevention and intervention support program. They reached out to student leaders — like the captain of the basketball team — and encouraged them to work with the program. These leaders bring credibility and visibility to your initiatives and voice other students will listen to and respect.

5.) Think Big

We couldn’t end this post without writing about the inspirational featured speaker, Dr. Jennifer Arnold. Dr. Arnold encapsulated her life lessons into a simple yet powerful acronym: THINK BIG. We conclude with her message because it provides us with a game plan for creating the change we want on our campuses.
THINK BIG stands for

  • Try — You won’t succeed if you don’t at least try. Dr. Arnold offered the idea most succinctly in a quote from the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
  • Hope — You have to have hope to keep you sustained through long periods of struggle or even just the hard work of accomplishing your goals. Dr. Arnold spoke to the hopes that kept her going, suggesting that even if those hopes in retrospect were unrealistic, they played an important role in her life at the time.
  • Initiate — get started…enough said.
  • No — You have to ignore the people who tell you “no” or say you “can’t” do something. If it’s important enough, you’ll find away.
  • Know — You are the best judge of your abilities and limitations. Don’t listen to naysayers, but know when to say no to yourself.
  • Believe — Much like hope, it’s important you believe in yourself and your goals.
  • Improve — There is always room to get better.
  • Go for it!
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Free Webinar with Dr. Novak
Posted by On Monday, March 16, 2015

Peter NovakTomorrow, we will be hosting a free webinar with Dr. Peter Novak, the Vice Provost for Student Life at the University of San Francisco. If you haven’t already done so be sure to register today.

During this 45-minute webinar, Dr. Novak will answer questions about how he and USF built and deployed their NASPA Gold Excellence award-winning Campus SaVE Act Training Program for students, faculty, and staff, and overcame challenges associated with deploying the campus-wide initiative.

Dr. Novak has an extensive background in Student Life with considerable experience as an academic and administrator in social justice issues. He received his doctorate in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from Yale University. In addition to his doctorate, he holds an MFA from the American Conservatory Theater and an MA in English from Loyola University Chicago.

At Yale Dr. Novak served as Dean of Trumbull College , on the Provost’s Committee on Resources for Students and Employees with Disabilities, and on the Fund for Lesbian and Gay Studies. He is also a founding chair and tenured full professor in the Performing Arts and Social Justice program at the University of San Francisco. His research focuses on diversity and language, LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS dramatic literature, and Deaf culture and American Sign Language translation.

In December 2011, dissatisfied with the online training USF was offering incoming students, Dr. Novak approached LawRoom to build Think About It, an online training program for incoming students that addressed campus sexual assault and substance abuse. Dr. Novak had been impressed by the quality of LawRoom’s online harassment training programs developed for faculty and staff, and he felt LawRoom would be a valuable partner in creating a cutting edge, engaging online program on substance abuse and sexual violence for incoming students.

The collaboration brought together LawRoom’s expertise in legal compliance and online training with USF’s experience handling the unique social challenges students face in their transition to college life. As a result of their work, LawRoom developed CampusClarity, a service of LawRoom that is dedicated to creating training solutions for the higher education community.

USF and CampusClarity worked together extensively in the creation of the course. They conducted focus groups and user panels with students to refine the voice and tone of the course and make sure scenarios reflected realistic situations. Additionally, numerous department representatives and programs at USF, including the Gender and Sexualities Center and Health Promotions, helped develop learning objectives and course content. During the development process, USF and CampusClarity also hosted a conference with faculty and staff from 30 universities in order to prepare the course for a diverse group of campuses.

Since the development of Think About It, USF and CampusClarity have continued to collaborate on other initiatives and projects, such as the Talk About It community, a collection of resources administrators can use to implement ongoing programming on their campuses around the issues of sexual violence and alcohol abuse.

Tomorrow, Dr. Novak will talk in more detail about other initiatives he’s implemented at USF. Among other things, he will talk about balancing training with other priorities in Student life and how to create an effective program with limited staff, limited time, and limited budget.

His talk will be valuable for schools looking for ways to improve their current programs, and for schools that are just developing their training programs.

Dr. Novak will also discuss practical solutions for going beyond SaVE Act compliance, including:

- Deploying a campus-wide training program prior to the June deadline.
- How to help ensure adoption of the program by students and faculty.
- On-going educational programming based on institutional data.

Please go to our registration page to sign up for our free webinar if you haven’t already.

 

 

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Utilizing Talk About It to Create a Healthy Campus Climate
Posted by On Wednesday, November 19, 2014

By Jennifer Waryas, Health Marketing Coordinator at the University of San Francisco

 

The health of the entire campus community depends on a climate that is conducive to learning. Campus climate affects many aspects of the college experience, ranging from how students engage with alcohol and drugs and what part social norming plays in consumption to how students understand consent and other facts about sexual assault.

For many students in their first semester, developing healthy habits at the start of their college career is key. Through collaboration between departments, incoming students see a united front and receive materials that are in alignment with Think About It’s harm-reduction messaging. We seek to empower students by informing and educating them without resorting to scare tactics. By treating students as adults, we provide the opportunity for them to make their own healthy decisions.

Since students are required to take the first Think About It course before they arrive on campus, they are exposed to topics that they may or may not have experience with when they arrive. The messaging is echoed in materials and workshops provided during orientation. SHaRE (Student Housing and Residential Education) provides Alcohol Poisoning magnets and safe partying guides to all the dorm rooms. In one of the many presentations that students received as part of orientation this past Fall, Peter Novak, Vice Provost of Student Life, conducted a sexual assault workshop depicting an intimate encounter between two students. At each point in the encounter, students in the audience were asked to identify if consent was being given by showing a red or green card. The workshop allowed students to apply their knowledge of consent and generated interesting discussions among the participants.

Another collaboration with SHaRE is a dedicated bulletin board display in the residence hall common area for Talk About It displays. These change monthly and cover topics including domestic violence, self-image, healthy relationships, and alcohol and drug awareness.

The Gender & Sexuality Center (GSC) and Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) utilize Talk About It sexual assault brochures created for survivors, mandatory reporters, friends of victim/survivors, and those who have been accused. Public safety uses a warning signs card with Talk About It branding for students who have had a drug or alcohol incident. It is used simultaneously as a way to make the officers a part of the educational experience as well as to engage the student by asking a couple of provocative questions that may help them reflect on their lifestyle. To continue to encourage students to drink responsibly, Student Life issues birthday cards for students turning 21 which reinforce information from the party smart/safe guide.

A couple of pieces currently in production include a deck of cards that offers information such as common signs of alcohol poisoning and domestic violence, information from the USF health clinic, nutrition facts, and a sexual decision making handbook (in the form of an interactive PDF) that we are naming YOLO (“you only live once… Live with purpose”) that offers information on a variety of topics from healthy relationships to identity concerns and healthy date options.

We are also working with faculty to continue to find new ways to integrate Talk About It into the curriculum.

Talk About It has been an important piece of USF’s efforts to empower students to make safe and healthy decisions. The consistent messaging has made key learning points memorable. The branding has made the messages visible. And the various workshops and materials have involved the whole campus in our efforts.

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“A Leadership Role”: Interview with Peter Novak [Part 3 of 3]
Posted by On Monday, October 6, 2014

In our last installment from CampusClarity’s interview with Peter Novak, he discusses how colleges and universities can take a leadership role in stopping sexual misconduct and substance abuse by setting goals that may at first seem counter-intuitive.

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Interview with USF Vice Provost Peter Novak [Part 1 of 3]
Posted by On Wednesday, September 24, 2014

CampusClarity recently interviewed Peter Novak, Vice Provost of Student Life at the University of San Francisco, about Student Life’s harm-prevention programming this Fall. The interview sheds light on how one school is approaching these important issues. We’ll be publishing the interview in three installments this week.

In this excerpt from that interview, Vice Provost Novak discusses how to use data collected by “Think About It” along with elements and themes from the course as a basis for expanded programming on sexual violence and substance abuse on campus.

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Think About It for Graduate Students
Posted by On Wednesday, September 10, 2014

grad_welcome

Today we’re announcing the launch of Think About It for graduate students!

We’ve spent the last several months developing this course to address the unique needs and situation of graduate students. Refined and informed through focus groups with graduate students and roundtables with administrators, the course has a clean, professional look that appeals to older students. And at one hour, it’s streamlined while still covering all the important compliance and prevention issues, including consent, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking.

An image of graduate course interaction sample featuring a silhouette of a man making a statement.The course also covers bystander intervention in great depth. We begin by laying a high-level conceptual foundation for intervention, introducing ideas such as cultural barriers to social action. As the course progresses, we discuss further barriers to intervention (for instance, the ways we rationalize away someone’s bad behavior or our own inaction), model ways to overcome those barriers, and provide practical strategies to intervene. As always, we provide students opportunities to apply these skills in realistic scenarios.

We see all our courses as on-going projects, which evolve and develop as we collect more feedback from users and new research informs best practices. Just as we’re planning on using the latest research-based strategies to further improve our undergraduate course, we’ll be conducting more focus groups and roundtables to provide valuable insight on ways to engage students in our course material. We look forward to working with schools to create a program that helps them initiate meaningful change in a way that addresses these challenges in their campus communities.

To learn more about the course email us at admin@lawroom.com

grad_montage

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Peter Novak Talks Think About It and Creating an Ethic of Care on College Campuses
Posted by On Monday, August 25, 2014

The University of San Francisco and Peter Novak, USF’s Vice Provost for Student Life, were recently featured in an article and video from the National Catholic Reporter. The pieces go into detail about Think About It and how USF uses the program.

Vice Provost Novak and USF collaborated (and continue to collaborate) closely with us on developing the Think About It program.

In a recent opinion piece for the San Francisco Chronicle, Novak discussed the challenges schools face in eliminating campus sexual violence and substance abuse and the steps his university is taking to achieve this goal.

“Creating a new culture is the single largest challenge,” Novak writes, “as universities must contend with the many societal norms that have helped to shape students’ expectations of the traditional college experience. We must push ourselves to break new ground in the prevention of harmful behaviors.”

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Peter Novak Discusses Campus Assault on KQED’s Forum
Posted by On Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Peter Novak appeared on Forum with Michael Krasny today. Forum is a call-in program on KQED, the Bay Area’s NPR affiliate.  Today’s show focused on campus sexual assault.

Novak is Vice Provost for Student Life at USF and worked closely with us to develop Think About It. He discussed USF’s  multi-faceted approach to tackling campus assault, which includes having incoming students take Think About It.

Also on the show,  California congresswoman Jackie Speier spoke about the federal legislation she plans on introducing to protect students from sexual assault.

The whole segment is worth a listen. You can find it here.

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Think About It: Part III Available Now!
Posted by On Wednesday, April 9, 2014

We are pleased to announce the launch of Think About It: Part III. The course is the final installment in our program for incoming students. It addresses three topics: healthy relationships, stalking, and supporting a survivor of sexual assault. In addition to reinforcing and extending learning points from Parts I and II, its topics also address the Campus SaVE Act’s education requirements.

In the section on healthy relationships, we model healthy behaviors and teach students to identify signs of unhealthy and abusive relationships. In a short video for this section, we interviewed students about their perceptions of healthy relationships. We were very impressed with the breadth and depth of the insights of the students we interviewed. We’re excited to share what they said.

The stalking section helps students recognize stalking and conveys the importance of documenting stalking behavior. In researching this section, we realized that not all of the students we talked to understood that stalking is a pattern of behavior and that police often need to see that pattern to do something.

The final section shows students how to support a survivor of sexual violence and encourages them to learn more about local and campus resources. Research shows that survivors are more likely to report an assault to a friend or trusted acquaintance than campus authorities[1]. Thus we believe that giving students the tools they need to support each other will help improve broader campus support for survivors. If survivors feel supported by the campus community, they may be more inclined to report to officials.

As with our other courses, we have created an engaging learning experience. We’ve framed each section with a realistic story that sets up the main themes and ideas. Rich media creates an absorbing experience, and points and badges motivate students to work carefully through the material. We’ve also included optional articles if students want to dig deeper into any of the topics. Like Part II, the course is relatively short. It should take 30 minutes to complete, perfect for a study break or end of the year refresher.

[1] See for instance “Reasons for Not Reporting” in Krebs, C.P. et al. (2007) Campus Sexual Assault Survey. National Institute of Justice.

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