Charlotte Cramer’s open letter to the campus in last week’s Bates Student raised important issues worthy of our community’s full attention and deliberation. Her call for expanded programming, dialogue, and support for victims of sexual assault is also well timed.
We are making progress both in preventing and responding to incidents of sexual misconduct. Last academic year, the college hired a full-time Title IX officer, we enacted clearer policies, resources, and procedures relating to sexual misconduct, and we unified this information under a single comprehensive website. Last spring, the college began implementing the Green Dot program, an evidence-based bystander intervention program that empowers students to be the agents of culture change. To date, about 775 students and 150 faculty and staff have participated in a Green Dot overview program, including all first-year students as part of our new student orientation program. About 100 students have participated in the Green Dot booster program, and 164 students have participated in the Green Dot five-hour certification program.
In addition, we continue to invest in efforts to prevent and respond to incidents of sexual misconduct. Currently, three college initiatives are underway that focus on further strengthening our program and service efforts.
The first is the Campus Culture Working Group, which is finalizing a set of actionable recommendations that address a range of issues, including sexual misconduct, healthy relationships, and substance abuse at Bates. Comprised of eight students, as well as representatives of the administration, staff, faculty, and athletics, the Working Group’s recommendations build upon recent efforts to improve a number of programs and services, while staying true to our shared values and culture of inclusion, trust, responsibility, and respect. The Working Group, established in the fall of 2015, is presenting and discussing its draft findings and recommendations to student leaders this month. To engage the full student body, an online survey will present the draft findings and draft recommendations to all students on Thursday, Jan. 28. Further, there will be open forums for seniors and juniors on Feb. 1, and on Feb. 3 for sophomores and first-years, which will provide students the opportunity to discuss the draft recommendations with members of the Working Group.
The second initiative underway relates to an anonymous survey that all students will be asked to take later this semester. The survey will help us assess the campus climate in relation to sexual violence and sexual harassment. It will also provide students an opportunity to give feedback on campus culture as well as our support services. It is our hope that the survey will assist us in understanding the full scope of the issue of sexual violence on our campus. The survey results will also help us better understand the effectiveness of our current efforts, as well as inform and guide the design and implementation of new programs and support services.
Finally, the college recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to create a comprehensive prevention and education curriculum that will engage students during their four years at Bates. This program will provide students with the knowledge and tools necessary to prevent sexual assaults and relationship violence. In particular, the curriculum will not only provide foundational education regarding sexual violence, but it will also provide increasingly sophisticated programming that encourages bystander intervention, broad advocacy, and student leadership in the prevention of sexual violence.
While we are hopeful that these ongoing efforts will gain traction with the campus community, we recognize that there is always more work to be done. We look forward to engaging with students, staff, and the entire Bates community in our ongoing efforts to address the important issue of sexual assault.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Title IX Officer