Educators should be brought into sex assault discussions
November 5, 2015
Next week is the It’s On Us “Week of Action, a whole week of activities dedicated to sexual assault awareness and prevention. The schedule includes tabling events, the showing of the movie “The Hunting Ground,” and a speaking event with scholar and educator on sexual violence prevention Keith Edwards, with a speech called “Ending Rape.” This is the second It’s On Us event of the semester that has been put on by Student Senate, the first occurring in early October. With sexual assault awareness and prevention being one of Senate’s key focuses this year and teaming up with organizations on and off campus such as SFO, GSA, Active Minds, and SART, It’s On Us has potential to make a difference in student’s lives at UWRF.
With the It’s On Us campaign being mainly focused on students within the university however, it is missing a large, influential population on campus. While it’s great that students are being educated on sexual assault prevention, shouldn’t our educators also be involved? Wouldn’t it be helpful for our professors to be encouraged to attend these events to show support, or at least mention in class that these events are going on in and encouraged students to go?
Before each semester, professors are required to go to seminars about a variety of things that have to do with being a good educator. However, UWRF professors have no option of going through training that deals with talking about sensitive topics such as sexual assault in a classroom environment. Because of this, there have been situations — even a situation this past week — at our university where professors have said things, which some saw as insensitive, about sexual assault, making students understandably uncomfortable.
As our university goes forward and works toward a more inclusive and safe campus for everybody, changes ought to be made when it comes to how professors are trained when it comes to sensitive subjects such as sexual assault. There should be a clear set of guidelines that professors would be encouraged to follow when it comes to addressing the topic of sexual assault in class, making that students know that sexual assault is never okay and never the victim’s fault. Faculty and staff should also have an idea of what to do or say if a student who has been sexually assaulted approaches them.
As the It’s On Us campaign makes a larger impact on campus and further educates students, it’s time to look at what is going on in our classrooms. UWRF needs to stand united when it comes to preventing sexual assault, and with the addition of professors and policy that teaches them how to deal with sensitive subjects, our university would be one step closer to being safe for everybody.