Faculty and staff from Sam Houston State University are invited to attend a seminar on Dec. 4 from 8 a.m. to noon in the Lowman Student Center Theater on to how to address sexual assault on campus and respond if an assault is reported to them.
“The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has declared sexual assault ‘an epidemic’ on college campuses,” said Dr. Kathy Latz, a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. “As research consistently shows, college students are more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other age group. Not only is sexual assault a crime, it also interferes with students’ basic right to receive a harassment-free education. This training is timely in light of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which (among other things) requires universities to increase sexual assault prevention and awareness efforts.”
The training, sponsored by the College of Criminal Justice, will raise awareness about the issue and outline the responsibilities of faculty and staff to respond to students. The program will feature Jyl Shaffer, Director of the Title IX Office at the University of Houston, and Jason Goodrich, Chief of Police at Lamar University. Both will provide practical ways to respond to the issue on campus.
According to research, one out of every four women attending college will be the victim of sexual assault during their college career, and 95 percent will not report the incident to law enforcement or campus officials.
“The most vulnerable time for these women is during the first six weeks of their freshman year,” said Dr. Cortney Franklin, Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. “Among women who are victimized, the vast majority will not seek formal assistance through law enforcement or campus officials because they fear retaliation from the perpetrator, out of shame, or because they fear being disbelieved and having their credibility questioned. These forms of secondary victimization have severe and negative consequences on the mental health outcomes of rape survivors. For these reasons, it is paramount to provide training to any person with whom a victim may disclose on the appropriate response and how to provide reasonable and victim-centered accommodations.”
The free training is open to all faculty and staff at the University. Registration is available through the Talent Management system.
“Given the high rates of sexual assault at institutions of higher education across the country we can conclude that this issue affects SHSU students,” said Nicole Wilkes, Research Associate for the Crime Victims’ Institute. “We need staff and faculty from all departments on campus to be aware of these issues, know how to respond if an assault is disclosed to them, and be engaged in dialogue on how to best serve students through preventing these crimes and supporting those who are victimized.”
The training will discuss the needs of student victims and examine what some colleges are doing to address the challenges of sexual violence on campus.
“Those higher education campuses that are taking innovative approaches to the problem of sexual assault by staffing victim advocates on-campus, providing access to SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) nurses through university health services, and promoting awareness through required prevention programs like bystander intervention and men’s programs empower students and provide university administration with the scaffolding for enhanced sexual assault prevention and response in the university setting,” said Dr. Franklin.
The training also will review federal requirements for sexual assault responses in higher education, including the Clery Act, Title IX and the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act. The Clery Act requires colleges and universities to provide students with information about campus crime and security policies, including the number of sexual assaults and other crimes that occur on campus. Title IX of the Education Act includes protection against sexual harassment, sexual violence and sexual assault and governs how campuses respond to sexual assault cases. Finally, the SaVE Act will require that schools provide sexual assault victims with contact information for legal assistance, counseling and health services and campus crime reports would be expanded to include cases of stalking and domestic violence beginning in 2014.