USI participates in ‘No More’ campaign, implements ‘fun’ Title IX program

Bobby Shipman

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USI is taking action to raise awareness of issues surrounding sexual assault and domestic violence on campus by implementing a Title IX program for incoming students and faculty and a new campaigned initiative.

“This semester we will work on a plan to get something out to all students to invite them to do a training,” said Dean of Students Angela Batista. “It’s an online training. It’s pretty fun and interactive. It’s less than an hour.”

Batista said they have been working with a vendor to create a program that will educate incoming students and faculty about the rules of Title IX, a part of the Education Amendments of 1972 that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.

In fall 2014, the university began implementing a nation-wide movement within Title IX that clarifies the rules behind what makes something a sexual assault and what defines rape.

“We haven’t exactly figured out what that looks like yet,” said Assistant Dean of Students Tara Frank. “We wanted to make sure we got something interactive, something that students could really get more out of learning about Tile IX issues.”

The program addresses issues of sexual assault, domestic violence, consent and bystander intervention.

Frank said they have also talked about getting the program out to enrolled students and upperclassmen, but have set no plan of action.

“We hope that we have a more educated and safer campus and one that is more supportive for the student body as a whole,” Frank said.

The Avon Foundation for Women commissioned and funded the No More Study, conducted by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, to research domestic violence and sexual abuse among teens ages 15-17 and adults 18 and older. The study is an effort to further support the foundation’s mission of educating people to reduce sexual assault and domestic violence.

During the men’s basketball game Jan. 22, student athletes read statistics from the study, which explored areas such as people’s perceptions of the occurrence of domestic violence among friends, children’s friends and in society as a whole.

The study also centered on the topics of dating abuse and violence, personal experience with domestic violence and sexual assault and the likelihood of bystanders to step-in if abuse against family members, friends and strangers is witnessed.

Assistant Program Director of Student Wellness Michelle Gifford said the study noted that education is lacking in the community.

“I’m talking about the nation-wide community,” said the co-chair of the sexual assault and gender violence committee at USI.

A total of 1,307 respondents, 15 years of age and older, were part of the survey conducted using the Knowledge Panel, and were placed into one of two main quota groups: Teens 15-17 (301 people) and adults 18 and older (1,006 people).

The study revealed 149 million (60 percent) of Americans know a victim of domestic violence.

Fifty-four million Americans report that they have been a victim of domestic violence, and 32 Million Americans report being a victim of Sexual Assault.

“We decided that we would take this as our initiative as a part of the Sexual Assault and Gender Violence Prevention Committee and make this our year-long initiative to help raise awareness and create conversation about not being a silent bystander,” Gifford said.

She said the campaign will help people who see or recognize signs of unhealthy relationships get up and help individuals that may be the target of these attacks.

“We will be working in collaboration with other areas on campus, other organizations and departments to help spread the message of No More,” Gifford said. “We will be doing some tabling’s with IFC around campus, maybe working with some other initiatives.”

She said they will put flyers up and table tents and use social media marketing as a way to spread the word.

Gifford said they have a time table of events coming up that help support the message.

Debbie Norris, whose daughter was killed by her boyfriend, will speak at the university Feb. 11 as a part of this initiative.

“I just really hope that it creates awareness and empowers students to feel confident in being an active bystander and being able to recognize signs of unhealthy relationships,” Gifford said. “I don’t want people to turn their heads from this subject.”

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