SCSU and Misconduct Training

Melissa Nunez – General Assignment Reporter

Incoming freshman were exposed to a more efficient version of Haven’s sexual misconduct training, while all faculty and staff are required to complete the updated training by May 1 said Paula Rice, director of the Office for Diversity and Equity.

Rice said Haven is Southern’s usual vendor for sexual misconduct training, but the update issued late 2015, “Haven-Understanding Sexual Assault,” is more scenario-based and interactive, allowing workers and students to relate better to sexual harassment, domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault, while also letting them simply relay each scenario to Southern’s various Board of Regents policies and protocols.

Rice said employees and students learn to identify and respond to these scenarios and can build a portfolio so that they may return at any time. She added through the sexual misconduct training, the University is creating an atmosphere where students and employees can feel safe reporting instances of sexual violence and where employees are given the tools to respond those reports constructively.  

“I’m hoping that it will create a climate where people are comfortable bringing issues forward and providing responsible employees with the tools they need, so they know what to do in those instances,” said Rice. “That the campus will see the institution as trying to provide a safe climate where people feel comfortable, where people are able to have healthy relationships, and to get the true college experience academically and socially, and know that university administration is here to support them.”

One employee workshop was held on April 12 and the second will be held May 2. Rice will review policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct and Catherine Christie, director of the Violence Prevention, Victim Advocacy and Support Center, will instruct them on how to respond when a student reports: what services are available, how to talk to a survivor, and what is provided to them.

Christie said responsible employees, such as Denise Bentley-Drobish, the Office of Student Involvement Director, do not have confidentiality when a student discloses incidences of sexual violence and must report those occurrences to Rice, as the Title IX coordinator. However, responsible employees are trained to capably provide students with support and resources during that time. Confidential resources, such as the Counseling Center, can provide students with the same information about support services, but have the ability to keep knowledge of the said incident secure.

Christy said once students disclose, they have the option to be paired with a University Advocate, which includes Christy and Melissa Richard, VPAS specialist, and an advocate’s main goal is to provide students information regarding their Title IX rights, reporting options, as well as the various advocacy and support services they have access to.  

Tracy Tyree, vice president of Student Affairs, said a climate survey was launched April 8 and will be available for the next three weeks, it is designed to assess how the university responds to instances of sexual violence from students providing their insight. She said the climate survey launched last year had a small response rate and they are seriously urging students to complete it, as their feedback is vital for creating a better environment for survivors on campus. The survey is completely anonymous and at the end there is a separate section allowing students to enter to win one of five Amazon 100-dollar gift cards.

As a partner with the Office of Diversity and Equity, Tyree said their shared goal is to significantly reduce or eliminate incidents of sexual misconduct on campus and to establish a climate where Southern has effective response mechanisms.  

“To create the environment that helps students be academically successful and students that have to be concerned about sexual misconduct, interferes with their academic pursuits,” said Tyree. “This training of one way to contribute to that. [Employees] understand the policies, they know the resources, they know how to respond to students. So it’s all part of creating this climate that is safer and more responsive to sexual violence on campus.”

Photo Credit: Melissa Nunez – General Assignment Reporter

PHOTO: VPAS staff, Left to right: Elizabeth Brady, Bri Nash, and Cathy Christy, VPAS Coordinator, in their office.

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