6 Ways Faculty and Staff Can Fight Sexual Violence on Campus

A professor talks in a classroom/

Faculty and staff can be crucial advocates for campus safety. Image by Jeremy Wilburn, Flickr Creative Commons.

April 14, 2014

College faculty and staff play an important role in preventing, addressing, and ending sexual violence on campus. Faculty and staff interact with students on a daily basis, can serve as confidants, and may witness important behavior changes. Here are six ways faculty and staff can take action today to end sexual violence.

1. Encourage educational and prevention programming on campus.

Sexual assault is a learned behavior. By fostering a campus culture of gender equity and respect through programming, training, and awareness campaigns, faculty and staff can help prevent sexual assault. Faculty can also incorporate the issue of sexual assault into their curriculum whenever possible and whenever relevant to course content. Faculty and staff can also offer student workshops facilitated by trained faculty, staff, and students on campus.

In response to a Title IX violation, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, developed SAFE@UNC, a central hub that provides students with information, resources, instant help, and the opportunity to receive trainings on interpersonal violence. SAFE@UNC also has a group of students and peer educators that provide personal, one-on-one services.

2. Bring outside experts to campus.

Colleges and universities can benefit from lectures and sexual assault prevention programs presented by outside experts. Invite officials from a community or state antiviolence organization or authorities on sexual assault prevention to speak. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center maintains a database of experts. Local, community, or state antiviolence organizations can also provide names of local experts.

3. Participate in faculty and staff training.

Faculty or staff members can be trained as facilitators and trainers to help their colleagues become more responsive to and aware of sexual violence issues. Ask for trainings that address faculty and staff roles and responsibilities if a student discloses an assault, either directly or indirectly. Also learn how to make appropriate referrals when necessary.

4. Ensure that resources are made available for survivors of sexual assault.

Campus faculty or staff members can be influential in ensuring that the following comprehensive resources are made available for survivors:

  • Well-publicized materials detailing what steps to take immediately after a sexual assault
  • Trained staff and a safe, confidential environment in which to report a crime
  • Trained medical personnel who can provide sexually transmitted diseases and HIV screening and treatment, pregnancy testing, emergency contraception, and follow-up care
  • One-on-one and group counseling and support services at a women’s center, health center, or university counseling center
  • Information on how to access a local rape crisis center or a national organization such as the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network’s (RAINN’s) online hotline

5. Organize or participate in public awareness initiatives.

Several organizations and resources can help faculty and staff create or participate in existing educational and public awareness initiatives on campus sexual assault.

  • It’s on Us — Pledge your commitment to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault. AAUW is proud to be a part of this growing movement, which reframes sexual assault in a way that inspires everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it.
  • The Clothesline Project: Have people affected by violence decorate a shirt and hang it on a public clothesline as testimony to the problem of sexual violence.
  • V-Day: Hold a performance or a film screening to raise awareness about violence against women and girls.
  • White Ribbon Campaign: Wear a white ribbon and make a personal pledge to “never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women and girls.”
  • Take Back the Night: Take part in this after-dark  march that is popular on college campuses and make a statement that women have the right to be in public at night without the risk of sexual violence.
  • International Day against Victim-Blaming: Get involved through social media by using the hashtag #EndVictimBlaming every April 3, the online day of action to speak out against victim-blaming and to support survivors.
  • Denim Day in Los Angeles and USA: Wear jeans on April 23 to protest and raise awareness of the misconceptions that surround sexual assault. Order the Denim Day Tool Kit and raise awareness on your campus and in your neighborhood and community.

6. Make sure your school has a Title IX coordinator and that she or he has updated resources.

Title IX requires every school to have at least one employee on staff who is responsible for making sure the school is compliant with the law. This person is sometimes referred to as a Title IX coordinator, and she or he is responsible for overseeing all complaints of sex discrimination. The coordinator also identifies and addresses any patterns or systemic problems.

This position is an integral part of enforcing Title IX, yet many schools haven’t appointed a Title IX coordinator. Others have a coordinator, but the person is sorely missing the support, guidance, and training needed to do her or his work properly. To remedy this, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released much-needed tools to provide Title IX coordinators with vital resources to help them do their jobs better. Faculty and staff can help by making sure that these materials get into the hands of as many coordinators as possible to help them make sure students have access to educational opportunities.

Learn more with the Ending Campus Sexual Assault Tool Kit

By:   |   April 14, 2014

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