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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, May 1, 2015

Why prevention efforts need to start as early as high school, the University of California’s response to the California State Auditor’s review and OCR investigations, and Bud Light retracts an ill-considered slogan.

Sexual Violence Starts in High School—Prevention Must Too

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 44% of sexual assaults are committed when the victim is not yet 18. This piece in the Huffington Post by writer and activist Soraya Chemaly makes an important point: Clearly sexual assault does not begin in college. Prevention efforts shouldn’t either. Chemaly goes on to outline other alarming statistics about the young ages of both victim/survivors and perpetrators and points to a number of horrific rape cases involving high school-aged victims and perpetrators to make her case that high schools can and must do more to address sexual violence. She also outlines some of the obstacles to that seemingly obvious step, including the lack of available resources and discomfort of having a conversation about these difficult topics with teenagers. Nevertheless, Chemaly stresses beginning prevention as early as possible is crucial not only to protect American high schoolers but also to provide them with the tools they need to protect themselves when they leave home for college.

How the UC System is Starting to Address It’s Sexual Violence Problem

This piece from USA Today follows up on the University of California in the midst of OCR investigations of several of the state’s largest campuses, including UCLA and UC Berkeley, and nearly a year after the California State Auditor released their report on the UC system’s sexual assault practices. The article covers the background of the report and investigations, focusing on the efforts of student activists in filing a Clery Act complaint and Title IX claims against UC Berkeley. It also reports on what the UC system has done to address the inadequacies which led to the investigations and were covered by the CSA report. These changes include mandatory sexual violence prevention training, the hiring of confidential survivor advocates, and a survivor resource specialist. However, university officials and activists alike stress how much more work remains if the UC system is to do all it can to prevent sexual violence and support its victim/survivors.

Bud Light Corrects a Thoughtless Slogan

According to a poorly thought-out slogan featured on new packaging, Bud Light is “the perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.” It didn’t take long for Reddit and Twitter users to point out what apparently slipped past everyone at Anheuser-Busch: The ugly way that particular slogan recalls the connection between intoxication and sexual assault, and especially the way alcohol can and is used as a weapon by perpetrators against their victims. To the company’s credit, an apology was issued swiftly and the offending slogan won’t be printed again. Still, the whole episode is an important reminder of the need to consider language and how it affects culture and behavior.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, September 19, 2014

For this week’s roundup we have three stories about the latest in substance abuse and sexual violence prevention efforts.

New White House Campaign Enlists Men in the Fight against Sexual Assault

Today President Obama and Vice President Biden announced a new campaign intended to encourage bystander intervention preventing sexual assault on college campuses. The campaign, called “It’s On Us,” is intended for all students, but is particularly focused on men. Research suggests that although the majority of college-aged men disapprove of sexual assault and sexual violence, they may be reluctant to speak out against it due to the mistaken belief that their peers will disagree. “It’s On Us” will attempt to dispel that belief. The campaign will be promoted on its website, social media and through partnerships with colleges, organizations, and private parties.

University of California Announces Plans to Take Action on Sexual Assault

In June, University of California President Janet Napolitano formed a task force on preventing and responding to sexual violence to investigate ways the University of California system could improve its current policies and procedures. This week, the task force announced seven recommendations to improve the UC’s response to sexual violence. The recommendations aim to create a more consistent, system-wide approach to these issues, including the creation of campus response teams, the standardization of adjudication and investigation procedures, the introduction of comprehensive training for students and employees, and the establishment on each campus of an independent, confidential advocacy office to support survivors. Napolitano praised the task force’s recommendations, calling them a “testament to the collaborative and rigorous approach the university is taking to become the national leader in preventing and combating sexual violence and sexual assault.”

Colleges Finding Ways to Fight Binge Drinking

If binge drinking on college campuses sometimes seems like an intractable problem, schools like Frostburg State University are proving that with the right policies administrators can reduce reckless drinking amongst their student population. Frostburg has partnered with local law enforcement, bars, and lawmakers to step up police presence around campus and limit students’ access to alcohol. They also have increased the number of Friday classes in an effort to reduce Thursday night drinking, and begun a campaign highlighting the less attractive aspects of drinking to excess. While some of the new policies are less-than-popular with students, they do seem to be having the intended effect. The number of Frostburg students who binge drink at least once every two weeks is down from 57% to 41%, much closer to the national average.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, June 27, 2014

California has a large college-aged population due to its singularly massive system of state schools, and more-progressive-than-average state government. Lately, it is also the source of developments in the fight against campus sexual assault that are of interest, and might even have ramifications, nationwide. So, even if you’re not in California, here are three from recent weeks that have sparked interest across the nation and abroad.

Controversy Rages Over SB 967

Back in February we reported on SB 967, the California Senate Bill that would require colleges and universities to define sexual assault as being any sexual activity that occurred without ongoing affirmative consent from both parties. Since its proposal, SB 967 has been passed by the California State Senate and is currently working its way through the Assembly. While the bill has not yet been signed into law, it continues to generate controversy, with thoughtful arguments coming from both sides of the debate.

State Auditor: California Universities Need More Training

California’s state auditor has released a report on the topic of California universities’ response to sexual assault. Their conclusion? That California can and should do more to prevent and respond to sexual assault. Chief among the report’s recommendations is increased training on how to respond to a sexual assault report for the faculty and staff most likely to “be the first point of contact,” including dorm advisors and athletic coaches. It also called for awareness campaigns on California campuses, and for schools to do a better job keeping victim/survivors informed of the results of conduct proceedings against their attackers.

Napolitano Forms UC Task Force on Sexual Assault

The University of California’s ten campuses are governed by a single 26-member Board of Regents. When UC Berkeley was added to the list of schools currently under Title IX investigation by the Department of Education, the whole system came under scrutiny. University of California President Janet Napolitano has announced the creation of a task force to address campus sexual assault, made up of members of the UC Board of Regents, as well as students, advocates, student conduct officers, administrators, and campus law enforcement. The task force will “develop best practices for all areas of sexual violence prevention, investigation, and response systemwide.” The UC system has also implemented policy changes, including an updated definition of consent and more sexual assault training, intended to prevent sexual violence and support victim/survivors.

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