Students at Clarke University, as well as students from all federally funded colleges and universities in the United States, are required to take sexual violence prevention training every year. To comply with the U.S. Department of Education requirements, Clarke provides a mandatory online training course to its students in the fall to be completed by October. The goal of this training, as well as other campus events, is to reduce instances of sexual violence and create a safe environment on campus for all students.
Sexual assault and sexual violence are not topics that college students she away from. Cases like Brock Turner and the Vanderbilt football players in 2015 caused an uproar of anger around the nation about sexual assault on campus and the justice system’s judgement on sexual assault cases. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), 11.2% of all undergraduate and graduate students experience sexual assault during their four years at college1. Clarke is not immune to this problem, even though it is viewed as a small, friendly campus. The online training program, and events like dramatic dialogue during CONNECT weekend, are created to educate students on sexual assault statistics, its implications, and resources available to them on campus. Through preventative education, Clarke works to change the environment on campus so that all students feel safe no matter what.
Education plays a vital role in the prevention of sexual violence on campus. One of the CDC’s five strategies to prevent sexual assault is to teach the skills necessary to prevent sexual violence through different areas of student’s lives2. Learning about healthy relationships and sexuality is one part of the education. For example, students are taught the warning signs of abusive tendencies so they know what to look out for in any kind of intimate or romantic relationships.
Kate Zanger, Vice President for Student Life and Title IX Coordinator at Clarke University, discussed what Clarke is doing to educate its students to prevent sexual violence. “One of the reasons we added the on-line sexual violence education class is to demonstrate that we are reaching students. It is not the only education tool we use. The CONNECT Orientation program for undergraduate students contains information about defining consent, by-stander intervention and our policy and resources including where to make a report and where to access confidential resources.” When asked why an online program, Kate explained that it is the best way to reach the most number of students, and that they have a high response rate. In previous years, Clarke has also asked coaches to require their athletes to attend on-campus events featuring films like “Hunting Grounds” followed a discussion by on- and off-campus personnel. Since Clarke’s student body has many athletes, requiring them to attend an event such as this ensures education is reaching a large percentage of students.
People are increasingly becoming aware of the prevalence and implications of sexual assault on campus. Instructing students regarding their rights and the resources available to them on campus can help victims and eliminate rape culture on campus. On this topic, Kate Zanger reported “I think as a result of our education efforts, we have experienced an increase in faculty, staff and students bringing concerns to me as the Title IX Coordinator for Clarke. I make an outreach to be sure the person knows their options for reporting and resources.” Through education, students can help each other and themselves fight through an impossible situation.
by Sydney Young