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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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White House Task Force Releases New Resource
Posted by On Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Last April, when the White House released the first report from its Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, they promised to provide schools with a sample Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with local law enforcement. On Monday, the White House finally released their sample MOU. The release coincided with last week’s anniversary of President Obama establishing the White House Task Force.

As described in the document, Memorandums of Understanding “describe the responsibilities of the parties in carrying out an activity or process of mutual interest.” These documents help schools, local law enforcement, and other key stakeholders respond to and prevent incidents in a more coordinated, collaborative, and effective way.

The sample MOU, however, is only meant as a road map; each institution will have to tailor it to its unique needs. As the Department of Justice’s press release explained, “the sample MOU is…intended to be a starting point for a conversation between campus administrators, campus police and local law enforcement on how to improve collaborations between critical first responders.”

Furthermore, while the sample MOU is focused on sexual assault, it encourages schools and local enforcement agencies to develop MOUs around other issues, including domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

We’ll continue to keep you informed as the White House Task Force releases more resources and information.

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Free Infographic on Stalking
Posted by On Thursday, January 22, 2015

What is StalkingJanuary is National Stalking Awareness Month, an event especially relevant to college campuses, since, according to a recent study, college students are more likely to experience stalking than the general public. The study was done by the Crime Victims’ Institute at Sam Houston State University. Researchers drew on data from the 2006 National Crime Victimization Survey Stalking Victimization Supplement.  They discovered that only 2.2% of the general public experienced stalking in the past year compared to 4.3% of college students. Furthermore, while college students were more likely to acknowledge that what they experienced was stalking, they were less likely to report it to the police.

To help spread awareness and promote safety on your campus, download and share this infographic with key information about who is at risk for stalking and what to do if you are being stalked.

 

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Free Party Smart Poster
Posted by On Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Party Smart GuideFinals are here. As students gear up for their end of term exams, they may also be planning to party down when they’re done. And other students may be looking forward to a last hurrah this weekend before finals officially start.

This Party Smart poster, based on Think About It and developed at the University of San Francisco by Jennifer Waryas, provides a convenient resource to help students make safe decisions about drinking.

The “Safe Party Guide” offers students tips for before, during, and after a party. It covers everything from setting a limit to using the buddy system, giving students a checklist to follow before they go out. It is perfect for dorm hallways, bulletin boards, or bathrooms.

Download the poster by visiting our Talk About It Community page.

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How Can Campuses Improve Reporting?
Posted by On Monday, November 17, 2014

After schools released their Annual Clery Reports last month, it became apparent that the number of reported sexual assaults was on the rise. But rather than interpreting these numbers as a crime wave on college campuses, most experts saw the increase as a good sign. It meant that awareness about sexual assault was spreading on campuses, reporting procedures were improving, and survivors felt more comfortable coming forward. As the headline at the Huffington Post announced, “Colleges are Reporting More Sexual Assaults, And That’s A Great Sign.”

But if schools want to improve reporting even more, what are some steps they can take to make it happen?

Inform Students What Constitutes Sexual Violence

The reasons survivors of sexual violence choose not to report their assault to the police are complex and varied. There are of course obvious factors like the availability and accessibility of resources. Other important factors that can influence the decision to report include shame, fear of retaliation, distrust of authorities, and cultural or familial pressures.

Research also suggests, however, that how students understand an incident influences whether or not they report. According to the Campus Sexual Assault Study (2007), the most common reasons for not reporting were related to individuals’ perception of the incident. Over half of all victims who didn’t go to the police said they didn’t think the incident was serious enough to report and over a third didn’t report because they were unsure that what they experienced was a crime.

Similarly, when studying the informal disclosure of intimate partner violence, researchers Kateryna Sylaska and Katie Edwards found that the motives the survivors attributed to their partner’s violence also mattered. When individuals attributed their partner’s violence to “anger or jealousy” they were more likely to talk to someone than when they attributed that violence to “controlling, protecting, or a loving motive.” This research points to the importance of teaching students what behaviors qualify as sexual assault. Many students simply don’t know.

Train Your Campus on How to Respond to Disclosures

Most survivors, however, do tell someone about their assault. It’s just that most choose not to go to the police, campus authorities, or formal support services. For example, according to the Campus Sexual Assault study, while only 16% of physically forced sexual assault victims and 8% of incapacitated sexual assault victims visited a formal support service, and a paltry 13% and 2% respectively went to a law enforcement agency, 70% and 64% disclosed to someone close to them: a friend, family member, roommate, or intimate partner. Thus, if we wish to help survivors, it might be worthwhile to train students, faculty, and staff on how to respond when someone discloses a sexual assault to them. These informal support networks can also give survivors information about physical and mental health services they need and act as conduits to other university resources.

Give Survivors Choices

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind, that not all responses to survivor’s disclosures are equally helpful. Some can dissuade them from seeking further help or even re-traumatize them. In their research, Sylaska and Edwards discovered some important facts about what reactions survivors found helpful.

Helpful reactions included

• providing emotional support,
• allowing the victim to talk about the abuse, and
• providing practical or tangible support (like a place to stay).

Negative reactions included

• pressuring the victim to act in a certain way,
• not taking the violence seriously, or
• blaming the victim.

Survivor responses to advice were mixed. Advice was helpful when sought, the researchers found, but unsolicited advice felt frustrating and disempowering. This is why pressuring a survivor to report can actually be harmful. After all, a survivor’s goals don’t always align with formal reporting. As one activist explained, “a survivor’s number one priority is not necessarily to get their perpetrator arrested, it’s about moving forward and feeling safe in one’s community and healing.” Indeed, one ongoing controversy currently debated on college campuses is the extent to which faculty and staff are required to report to higher ups when students disclose a sexual assault to them. Advocates worry that requiring employees to report takes control away from survivors, potentially inflicting more distress on them.

Given the emphasis on supporting survivor autonomy, however, there is a hopeful shift at some schools and police departments to a victim-centered approach, which focuses on the needs of the survivor. New York Magazine recently profiled the program “You Have Options” developed by Police Detective Carrie Hull for the Ashland Police Department. You Have Options gives survivors more control over their case, including the whether to pursue the complaint as an “anonymous tip or a full criminal investigation” and the option to “upgrade or downgrade their investigation at any time.” The program also follows best practices regarding interviewing victims and ensuring they are well supported throughout the process. Indeed, Hull’s original aim was to create a space where victims felt comfortable talking to the police. “We found we needed to get people to a place they didn’t feel like they were being pulled or pushed through the process,” Hull elaborated in the  article. “And instead they were leading the way.”

During Senator Claire McCaskill’s third roundtable on campus sexual violence, Hull talked about the program and her initial reservations that giving victims more control might hinder police from catching perpetrators. But she soon realized that this mindset was exactly wrong. The victims are “never responsible for the offender doing that next offense,” she explained. “The offender is responsible for that next offense, not the victim…what I think we have to realize is that we are doing something about it by allowing a survivor to enter the criminal justice system in the way that’s right for them” (1:02:46).

And Hull’s approach has had overwhelming positive results. According to New York Magazine, reports have increased by 106 percent since the program officially began last year. “We shifted our focus as a team to what does a survivor want, and out of that came better healing, but also identifying way more perpetrators,” Hull said.

A similar program has now been developed at the Southern Oregon University in Ashland and Hull’s program served as the model for proposals in Senators Claire McCaskill and Kirsten Gillibrand’s Campus Accountability and Safety Act. Perhaps You Have Options can serve as an example for other programs around the country.

 

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Looking Back on ATIXA
Posted by On Friday, October 17, 2014

We just got back from ATIXA, where we spent three days attending sessions, meeting educators and advocates, and learning a lot. It was a profoundly humbling experience as we got to know many of the remarkable people working hard to end campus sexual violence.

In the conference’s first session, activist and health educator LB Klein set the tone for the conference. She pointed out that the media’s narratives of campus sexual assault have framed the issue as an epidemic. The danger of this angle, she argued, is that it urges us to pursue quick fixes. But, of course, sexual violence on college campuses is not a new issue.

For example, in the National Institute of Justice’s 2000 study The Sexual Victimization of College Women, researchers estimated that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 women experienced attempted or completed rape while in college. In 2007, NIJ researchers found similar numbers. In fact, these numbers remain largely unchanged from what Mary Koss found in her groundbreaking studies in the 80s.

In order to gain a clearer perspective on the issue, Klein encouraged us to reframe the problem as one “endemic” to college campuses. Instead of quick fixes, she stressed, this reframing underscores the need for deep and thoughtful solutions that can be sustained over time and, of course, the need for significant investment in time and resources.

Klein’s message was echoed in many of the presentations. Indeed, another recurring theme of the conference was the importance of self-care for educators and advocates. Several speakers pointed to high turnover due to burnout and “compassion fatigue.”

However, if the problem has been persistent, there are signs that national attention is turning to this issue and others like it. Howard Kallem, a former attorney for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), cited statistics that suggest the OCR’s caseload is increasing. According to Kallem, in 2003 the OCR only closed 5141 cases. In 2014 that number stands at 9916. Hopefully these changes indicate that the issue is finally getting the attention it deserves.

Next week, we’ll explore some of the other issues and ideas that came up during the conference.

 

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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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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

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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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Free Workshop on Consent
Posted by On Thursday, August 14, 2014

We’re excited to release today a consent workshop developed by our friends at the University of San Francisco’s Division of Student Life.

The workshop would be a helpful addition to any orientation program or a stand-alone refresher course for later in the year. It covers the definition of consent and gives some important statistics about sexual assault and intimacy in the campus community. It also gives students the opportunity to practice communication skills related to asking, giving, and denying consent.

Here are the downloads:

Although this workshop was developed for women, it can easily be adapted for students of any gender. In fact, we hope schools will tailor these resources to fit their unique needs and we encourage you to make refinements and improvements as you see fit. We do ask, however, that you share any changes you make to a workshop and make them freely available to the whole student conduct community (that’s why we use a creative commons license).

(more…)

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