In the spring of 2015, a total of 434 Trinity students responded to a Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault. On Thursday, October 29, the Coalition for Respect and the Student Government Association will hold a forum on sexual assault that discusses the results of the survey and addresses future strategies for sexual assault prevention on campus.
Dean Tuttle, the associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, explains the national call for universities to send campus climate surveys to their student bodies.
“The White House is asking universities to do campus climate surveys,” Tuttle said. “Institutions are trying to do right. This is the first time through on the surveys and there are various surveys out there. I think it’s a starting point.”
The White House reports that 1 in 5 women will be a victim of sexual assault while they are in college.
Tuttle explained that Trinity was one of many other small private liberal arts universities to participate in the Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault.
This is third forum discussing sexual assault led by the Coalition for Respect. The first forum, held last year in October, redefined Trinity’s sexual assault policy. Within the sexual assault policy, language was updated redefining the terms “intoxication” and “incapacitation” in relation to consent.
Brenna Hill, a junior political science and urban studies major and SGA senator, will serve as the moderator for the forum.
“I think we made a lot of improvements on the policy side last year by making changes to the Trinity sexual assault policy. One of our main goals this year is the educational and prevention side of things. So forums like these really help because students can learn from the panelists and also they’re able to express what they see on campus and the issues that they think we should address,” Hill said.
The Coalition for Respect aims to remain vigilant, not only on policy and procedure related to sexual assault, but also education and prevention. Sheryl Tynes, associate vice president for academic affairs serves as a co-chair for the Coalition for Respect’s Education and Prevention subcommittee.
Tynes explains that the Coalition works to provide strategies for students before sexual assault incidents.
“I’m a sociologist by training and I think you can’t just dump an issue on somebody’s lap and not give them tools for how to make a difference. One of the things we know about Trinity students is that you guys want to make a difference,” Tynes said.
There is a perception that sexual assault is a topic reserved for women, according to Tynes.
“Last year, when we were trying to find out what other programs are being used nationally that are really inclusive of young men and there aren’t a lot. People perceive this nationally only about females. That females are the audience and females are the survivors—that’s just not accurate,” Tynes said.
Researchers have found that 1 in 6 men are sexually assaulted before reaching adulthood according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. The Coalition is working to recruit more men in the committee and dispel myths about sexual assault through their forums and programs.
“This is an issue that can affect anyone. We need more men at the table because most of the students on the Coalition are women. We would really like men to be a part of this conversation, so we would just encourage everyone to come out to this forum,” Hill said.
Tynes noted that it is unclear whether the sexual assault problem has gotten better or worse.
“I teach a class called Sociology and Sex Roles. I’ve taught a class called Sociology and Women. I’ve taught these classes for decades, [sexual assault] has not changed. It has not gone away. I don’t know if it’s gotten better or worse. I think it’s great that we’re having the conversations and I think it’s great that we’re trying to make a dent with them,” Tynes said.
The Coalition for Respect and SGA are planning a student-only forum in the spring to keep improving sexual assault culture on campus, according to Tuttle.
“In the spring, SGA is going to hold a student-only forum, so that the focus isn’t on policies and university response. Student leaders can come together and talk about how the students own the culture here and make a culture where sexual safety is at the highest level of importance,” Tuttle said.
Tuttle added the Coalition for Respect and the university has made many strides in making changes in the sexual assault policy and education to reflect the campus climate.
“If you look at the report that we’re doing as a community we’re doing a lot of different things —whether it was the speaker that we brought in last year, the online course that new students take, whether it’s the RAD program, the TUPD programs, the Coalition programs, the Campus Climate survey,” Tuttle said. “There’s a lot that we’re doing to make sure that we have a fully integrated and comprehensive approach on the subject. We can never get complacent about this. The Coalition helps make sure that we don’t.”
The Campus Sexual Assault Forum will be held in Northrup 040 on October 29 at 5:30 p.m.