I’m just one person. How can I provide prevention programming for the whole campus on top of everything else that’s on my plate?
People want to help, but it’s so hard to bring everyone together.
I’d like to implement something new, but I can’t get buy-in from across campus.
In our work with students affairs professionals to address campus sexual violence, we often hear these refrains. While it is difficult to see our colleagues working hard to overcome these obstacles, these shared refrains demonstrate that many professionals are experiencing similar challenges while working toward the goal of making their campuses safer.
Title IX officers, preventionists, and student affairs professionals are the boots on the ground in institutional efforts to prevent and respond to campus sexual violence, and it is Culture of Respect’s privilege to support them. One way we do so is through the Collective, a campus mobilization program that provides support, technical assistance, and professional development to help overcome the challenges that professionals share at campuses across the country. These challenges include:
Without a model to help understand how violence occurs, and therefore how it can be prevented and addressed, making change on campus, especially large-scale institutional change, can feel overwhelming. The Collective considers systemic change by using public health’s Social Ecological Model, which maintains that to shift the culture around violence, change must occur at every relationship level, from individual to societal. A Collective participant noted: “Illinois State University was seeking guidance on a framework around prevention. Culture of Respect is perfect since Health Promotion and Wellness uses a public health approach to our work.” Participants from Wake Forest University affirmed: “The Collective has helped University stakeholders take a deep dive into the Social Ecological model, and use that model to approach the many different people and ideas on campus.”
Too often, campuses rely on one department or office, or even a single individual to complete work of addressing sexual violence. But shiting campus culture to one that does not tolerate sexual violence requires participation and commitment from all parts of a campus. The Collective program model requires participating campuses to create a multi-stakeholder Campus Leadership Team (CLT) if they do not already have a similar taskforce or working group in place. Key to the success of the CLT is including student voices: “Often, when important decisions are made on college campuses, the students are relegated to the role of simple compliance; however, through their presence on the Campus leadership Team, students will have hands-on control when it comes to open conversations about the ways that Northeastern State University can better adhere to their experiences.” Participants from Wake Forest University noted, “the Collective conversation equalizes the voices of students, faculty, and staff as we confront sexual assault and relationship violence among our community members." Finally, the CLT structure ensures that campus stakeholders share the workload of assessing current efforts and implementing institutional change. “This work takes a diverse range of stakeholders, and cannot be adequately provided by only one or two areas of the University Community,” said an Illinois State University participant
Those tasked with addressing campus sexual violence can benefit greatly from a network of prevention and anti-violence professionals to help answer tough questions. These networks can be an invaluable source to vet a prevention program or speaker before bringing them to campus, or to ask how a similar institution overcame a challenge. The Collective’s emphasis on peer-led learning helps ensure all participants have this network at their fingertips. Says a Northeastern State University participant: “Before joining the Collective, I would be relegated to sending cold emails to colleagues at other institutions about their prevention efforts, but through Culture of Respect, I am immediately tapped into a network of professionals who are only a login away.”
Ending campus sexual violence is a monumental task, and one that surely cannot be undertaken alone. Through the Collective, we are proud to provide student affairs professionals the structure and support to address any challenges that come their way as they work to build a Culture of Respect on their campus.