Butler administrators push campus sexual assault prevention programs

An escalation workshop created by the One Love Foundation. Photo courtesy of One Love Foundation website.

ALI HANSON | STAFF REPORTER | amhanson@butler.edu

In response to the IndyStar article detailing the university’s handling of a student’s rape case, campus administrators are working to inform students of the sexual assault prevention programs available on campus.

Title IX coordinator Jamie Brennan, associate director of health and education and outreach programs, Sarah Diaz, and victim advocate Sara Minor have all tried educate students about the options that they have if they were assaulted.

President Danko sent a campus-wide email on Feb. 2 stating that campus administrators and staff have been charged with handling questions and concerns about this topic, such as Dr. Ross, the Vice President of Student Affairs, and Brennan.

Brennan, Diaz, and Minor were at the First Friday at Four Founders’ Week special event at the Efroymson Diversity Center to address concerns about campus safety and the options available to students.

“Everyone should know that we are here for them and we are even more motivated now to keep improving the Title IX process and prevention programs we offer on campus,” Minor said at the event.

Butler University has several different programs that deal with sexual assault prevention such as escalation workshops and an online course called Think About It.

Escalation workshops are used to discuss a wide range of topics. They can cover dating abuse, healthy relationships, signs of unhealthy relationships and how to support friends who are dealing with bad relationships.

“This workshop is intended to explore all the things in our society and our campus environment and even within our groups of friends that may perpetuate some really unhealthy practices within relationships and how to acknowledge the stuff that may exist within relationships or the mindsets that are problematic,” Diaz said.

The escalation workshop used by Butler was founded by the One Love Foundation. The foundation was created by the family of Yeardley Love, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend.

“She was an absolutely sweet girl who unfortunately lost her life before her time,” Diaz said.

Yeardley Love attended the University of Virginia in May 2010 when her ex-boyfriend violently assaulted her just weeks before their graduation. Love died as a result of the altercation and her mother and sister established the foundation in her memory to maintain discussions about healthy relationships.

“We should talk about the stuff in healthy relationships, as well as the stuff in unhealthy relationships so people know the signs of both,” Diaz said.

Escalation workshops are presented to first-year students going through Welcome Week programs, but they can also be facilitated throughout the year by student leaders.

“Students who want to go through this training program watch the film about Yeardley Love and then get trained in a 90-minute session with a One Love Foundation staff member,” Diaz said. “They also get trained on campus resources so they are able to go out and facilitate their own workshops about these topics.”

Escalation workshops and similar programs are often facilitated by resident assistants and other student leaders, such as Greek Educators, Advocates and Resources representatives. GEAR is an education program composed of Greek students that encourages wellness in their chapters.

“RAs have a programming requirement and one of their programs has to be about dating abuse, healthy relationships, or sexual assault and some RAs have been trained in escalation workshop training to educate their unit and even multiple units at a time,” Diaz said.

Sarah Frischmeyer, a junior health science major, is a GEAR representative and risk manager for Delta Delta Delta. She is one of the several representatives in her sorority and she is responsible educating members on a variety of topics.

“We make sure that the sorority knows everything the counseling center offers and to give presentations and facilitate discussions about sexual assault, sexual orientation, and suicide,” Frischmeyer said.

Students interested in becoming a GEAR representative are able to apply in October through an online application that is sent to chapter presidents. Selected applicants are then be enrolled in a 1-credit Peer Education course and meet every Monday night for one hour during the second semester.

“I know in my role I do a lot of educational things and I run workshops and drills,” Frischmeyer said. “As far as prevention goes, it is a very, very tricky situation. There isn’t a ton we can do other than having sober sisters at events keeping an eye out to make sure things are okay but it gets very tricky with that simply because you don’t know when it happens and what to expect. You can keep your eye out for the main triggers but you hope that the education workshops help out with that.”

A couple weeks ago there was a risk workshop that all Greek houses sent GEAR representatives to and they talked about societal issues that tie into sexual assault.

“I know that current events definitely influence what I do and talk about and so I definitely want to talk about healthy relationships and sexual assault right now,” Frischmeyer said.

Not only are there programs offered on campus to all students, but incoming students are also required to complete an online course called Think About It.

The Think About It course covers a wide range of topics that administrators at Butler University have decided are important for first-years coming to campus to know. The program is offered through Campus Clarity, which is from the company Everfi. It was first available to Butler students in 2016 and the university has a three-year contract with the program.

“It is geared towards getting students to think about some of the risks that exist on a college campus and some of the opportunities they have on campus to support their peers,” Diaz said. “It also covers different things like substance use, different kinds of substances, and healthy versus unhealthy relationships.”

The Think About It course covers topics such as sexual violence, healthy and unhealthy drinking habits, healthy and unhealthy relationship trademarks and drug abuse. The university takes this course very seriously and wants to make sure every student takes this course, so they have restrictions set in place for students who do not participate in this course.

“Our approach this year will be that students who have been asked to take the Think About It course and have not [completed it] will have received written notification to warn them that by not completing this course [that] they were expected to take within this time frame, they must be aware that they are now ineligible to serve in certain leaderships positions unless or until this course is completed,” Diaz said.

The leadership positions that students may be unable to participate in would be student orientation leaders, facilitators of Red Cup Culture, a program about drinking safety, resident assistant and ambassadors of change.

“If you are a student leader, we expect you to have this information,” Diaz said.

Meghan Lacy, first-year elementary education major, says she does appreciate the level of commitment the university has towards sexual assault prevention programs.

“I think that they do a lot to make sure that we, as students, are educated on sexual assault prevention and overall safety,” Lacy said.

However, Lacy did say that she wishes there was a different kind of program added to the discussion overall.

“I think they should make sure that we all know who to talk to and allow us to fully understand how we are protected with that kind of thing [Title IX] and checking up on victims because they may seem fine but then mental health steps in and bad things could happen.”

Diaz said that the Sexual Assault Prevention Task Force is checking the offerings that the university currently has for these sorts of issues.

“The task of the Sexual Assault Prevention Task Force is to assess our efforts and develop a strategic plan for sexual violence prevention at Butler University,” Diaz said.

The vice president of student affairs, Dr. Frank Ross, said that he, President Danko, and other campus administrators are meeting with various groups and individuals across campus to come up with a plan to share with the rest of campus in a month.

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