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Voices of Trinity: Symposium Topics, Trinity Resources


word cloud on sexual violence surveyIn this final installment about the results of our campus survey on sexual violence, we look at your responses to questions about what topics to include in a symposium, and also, your opinion of Trinity’s policies on sexual violence and our campus resources.  Many thanks to all students, faculty and staff who shared these comments!  We will be back in touch with you about the next steps in planning the campus symposium on #MeToo and sexual violence.

Question 5:  If Trinity conducts a symposium on the problem of sexual violence and the #MeToo movement, what topics would you recommend for inclusion?

Student comments:

  • How to teach our young men that sexual violence is a crime. No means no.
  • Sexual abuse and violence prevention techniques – beginning in very early childhood for both males and females, same-sex, sex abuse and violence in families, in schools and the clergy. This is a widespread problem not taken seriously enough in part because of the historical role of sexual abuse that is ingrained in our society.
  • Earlier intervention/education. If children have no words to describe what is happening to them, how do you expect them to report it? That is part of the reason child abuse takes so long to come out.
  • Families not doing anything about abuse, Trauma
  • How to navigate a world in which you are shamed when you admit to being a victim…how to control your own narrative after becoming public?
  • Talk about how it affects marginalized populations. Much has been said already about the wealthy and White victims.
  • As a victim of sexual assault, I would like to see a topic on sexual harassment in school. Specifically I would want to know what Trinity’s actions would be if a case or report would be brought to the school’s attention.
  • I would want the symposium to be intersectional and talk about all groups of people who experience sexual assault …include that men can get sexually assaulted as well.
  • Stereotypes and Sexual violence, how Americans perceive other cultures for sex. E.g. Latinas are easy and sexy, what Muslin women look like under their clothes.
  • Changing the dialogue. “She was raped” to “he raped her” Keep the blame on the rapist.
  • How African American women of all intersections are being raped and killed without any news coverage at a higher rate than any other race.
  • Are you to blame? where you can discuss the social view of peers and others that could make a person feel as though its their fault and how to know that you either did everything in your power to prevent it from happening or to not allow it to have happened -am i the only one? where you explain facts and statistics and discuss programs targeting this issue that can help others and the people affected by it …
  • Sexual violence towards black women and the LGBT community and ideas on how to fix this issue.
  • Who can you talk to if you can’t go to your parents.
  • Sexual violence to be covered across the spectrum— men, women, and children. An understanding of resources and prevention. A panel of experts to discuss signs that children have been sexually violated, how to support them, and resources for them. The bystander effect. How to help those who are the prosecutors of the matter— how can we support the abuser.
  • I would recommend there be discussions about how higher education can play a part in preventing sexual assault and harassment. Also Q&A workshops will also be helpful in getting the discussion going.
  • I think topics of self love. I think as a victim myself it took me a while to understand that none of what happened to me was my fault. It took me three years to be okay with who I was and to understand that what happened to me does not define who I am. Helping others understand what a toxic relationship is or the early signs of one.

Comments from Faculty and Staff:

  • Include a victim who is willing to share their story. People who hear stories from other people, specifically from victims, give credibility and “life” to this problem. It eliminates people’s thinking that they don’t know or have never heard anyone anyone who was abused.
  • Talk about how it affects marginalized populations. Much has been said already about the wealthy and White victims.
  • Where to go/ how to access mental health support on campus
  • Diversity in the #metoo movement. Not silencing women of color
  • A deconstruction of the notion that “boys will be boys” but women are to blame for their behavior; Media portrayals of women; the objectification of women; how to handle workplace harassment…
  • Discussion of the effect on victims from a psychological perspective. What to do if you or a friend are/have been a victim of sexual assault. Available resources. What we can do socially/politically to address issues of sexual assault.
  • Focus on what consent is, how we can teach and talk to youth (especially men!) differently so that they do not sexually assault someone.Yes, women also sexually assault others, but it is extremely rare compared to male perpetrators.
  • Actual statistics on how many sexual assaults are reported versus unreported, how media and Washington helps reinforce a toxic culture, along with their role in indirectly or directly shaming victims for either telling their stories or telling them too late.
  • Sexual violence as it impacts African American women Sexual violence as it impacts immigrants, particularly the undocumented, and the risk of human trafficking
  • I recommend a session exploring men’s roles in the #MeToo movement. Women have worked tirelessly to bring attention to sexual violence and many have shared their personal, painful stories in the hope of bringing about change. There needs to be more discussion about and among men regarding how we can work to stop sexual violence and how we can address the toxic masculinity, male privilege, patriachy, etc. that allows sexual violence to persist. This session could explore the ways in which men can hold other men accountable and eradicate the culture of violence.
  • Is there a difference in how the Catholic Church operates from White parishioners than with those of color? Curious as to why Black Catholics (in US) have not noted any of this kind of abuse among parishioners. Also, how will the legal system handle the Catholic church for its sexual assault crimes?
  • I am concerned, deeply for the students. The situation we are facing is one where there is an abuse of power by those at the highest levels in both the Catholic Church and the U.S. Government. I truly believe there needs to be more of a conversation among and between students, peer-to-peer with good moderators and really thoughtful people who are not or do not represent people of power in their lives. I want the students to feel empowered and not disempowered by this conversation and I don’t want to see them wallowing in self-pity either. We need to have productive conversations that help students to find a way forward and not wallow in a reality-show version of this or have it reduced to slogans, party-labels, tropes…..this is so incredibly serious, the implications for the students, faculty and society at large.
  • How to create an environment where victims of all genders can tell their stories. I think a lot of people don’t tell their story because they don’t feel safe with people around them: parents, spouses, relatives, coworkers, etc. They might think that they will be judged or not believed or worst, made feel different.
  • I would like to hear more about what students, faculty and staff experience, and what levels of harassment exists on college campuses today. I would also be interested in ways to be an advocate.
  • The real question to ask, is there a problem at Trinity? Beyond that, are we clear with what the definition of sexual violence versus groping,and or sexual language misuse.
  • Intersectionality Racism Classism/Socio-economic impacts
  • I have many thoughts about this, but one topic I feel is particularly important is the nature of the ideology of patriarchy and an informed discussion of why it is so difficult to dislodge or change patriarchal values at a fundamental social level.
  • How to appropriately handle the situation if a student comes to you and discloses information regarding someone that may have sexually assaulted them.
  • I would like to see a sex-positive sex educator running a workshop on the elements of consent (how to ask for it, what it looks like, and how to know when it’s violated. Then, what to do about it.)
  • The power of the feminine voice (or lack there of). What the concept of “feminism” really means. How men should address the issues. How women should address the issues.
  • The elevated risks for LGBTQ people, immigrants, and women of color.

Question 6:  Trinity has promulgated several policy statements on Harassment and Sexual Misconduct (Title IX), and we conduct educational programs and staff training on these issues periodically. How effective are these policies and programs?

The box below provides the statistical data on answers to two statements, broken out by students and faculty/staff.  Below the box are comments on this topic.

Statement #1:  Trinity’s policies on Harassment and Sexual Misconduct (Title IX) are effective.
Students 62% 32% 6%
Faculty/Staff 59% 39% 1%
Statement #2:  Trinity’s resources to assist victims of Harassment and Sexual Assault are effective.
Students 53% 42% 6%
Faculty/Staff 43% 50% 7%

Student comments:

  • Every year there is an email sent out with the link of Title IX, which honestly, most students do not
    read it. I would suggest having a workshop for students to attend and learn about the policy. Or
    even having it discussed in classes. Sexual violence is prevalent throughout the world, so, I
    believe it is important for all of us to come together and find ways to prevent it. Or if one had been
    sexually abuse, find ways to cope with it.
  • I think having some sort of class or workshop for students that talk about consent and what it
    means/how no means no could be beneficial. I think that teacher training is great and should
    continue to happen.
  • I haven’t attended a sexual violence/abuse/defense class on campus. I would love to attend and
    participate. Also, if not done so already, the classes should be available to any individual
    associated with Trinity
  • A class should be designated and required for this topic. Training is held for staff but what training
    is held for students?
  • Trinity does an awesome job listening and advocating for their students! Continue to listen and
    provide avenues for the women to be heard, to grow and be taught! Continue to have students
    walk together around campus in pairs/groups for safety.
  • I think making more vocal the fact that Trinity has these services would help because I was not
    aware of them.

Faculty/Staff Comments:

  • I would hope that Trinity’s policies and services are subject to continued reflection as to what could be improved and what more can be done. As long as our students and faculty and staff have to face the present attitudes toward sexual assault and harassment, there should never be a time when we as Trinity can say we have done enough.
  • Are services well known? Are victims being identified, and are they seeking and being given such services? Perhaps more publicity or information on a regular basis would be appropriate.
  • I think that as part of orientations (student, faculty, and staff) it would be helpful to have a seminar or workshop on inclusive language and behavior. The languages of war, sports, and politics are rife with images of dominance, death, and destruction. Unfortunately these languages permeate our social consciousness and make it easy to harass or intimidate others.
  • People that are victims are not going to go to a seminar because they believe that people somewhat may see what happened to them; that they’ll be found out. Although the policies are available online, I believe that a webinar would be more effective or an additional tool to reach more people

Thanks to everyone for your candid comments.  I learned some important perspectives as I read the survey answers.  Perhaps most important, this topic is of great interest to students, faculty and staff.  Many of you feel that Trinity can do much more to address the topic of sexual violence, resources to aid assault victims, discussion of consent, candid talk about how to deal with people who commit sexual assaults.

Trinity does have strong and clear policies on these topics, including the Harassment Policy and the Sexual Misconduct Policy (Title IX).  We also maintain a body of resources for victims of sexual assault.  We conduct routine training for faculty and staff.

However, the comments above tell me that we can do a far better job communicating, engaging, and helping our campus community to feel educated, protected and well-resourced as we all cope with a society where sexual violence is a major problem.  Improving our communications and services for sexual assault is a major emphasis as we plan the spring program.  We will be creating more opportunities for your input and engagement as we go forward.

One topic that came through in some of the comments:  what does Trinity do if someone commits an act of sexual harassment, assault or any related form of violence?  Our policies spell out procedures, but here’s my direct answer:  we do not tolerate any such behavior, and we will make every effort to separate a perpetrator of sexual violence from our campus.  We have taken disciplinary actions and personnel actions in cases in which someone assaulted another person, or verbally abused or harassed another person, or sent lewd or harassing messages.

We want to know if you are experiencing any situation involving harassment, assault or abuse committed by anyone at Trinity, and we will also assist you if you are a victim of assault by someone off-campus.  We can and do call the police if someone is assaulted.  We can and do terminate staff and dismiss students who violate these policies.  Our goal is to create and maintain a campus environment that is safe, free from harassment or violence of any sort, and supportive of everyone’s needs.

Thanks again to everyone for your thoughtful participation in our campus survey.

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