Kendal Santiago, Staff Writer
One in four women on a college campus experience sexual assault during their college career, according to a survey by the American Association of American Universities.
As a way to help combat sexual violence on college campuses and offer support to victims, New York State requires that student leaders receive some sort of education and training on sexual assault and how to respond to it. This includes executive board members of organizations and student athletes.
Students can receive this information through a number of ways. At Utica College, this information is provided through a sexual assault prevention online program called Haven.
While it is not mandatory for everyone to complete the program, Utica College administration and faculty try to educate all members of the community.
Lisa Green, vice president for human resources and personnel development and Title IX coordinator, explained the school’s attempt to reach out and provide information and resources to everyone.
“We have decided to take that term (student leaders) a bit more broadly by requiring that RA’s and orientation mentors also receive training given the centrality of their roles and the ways in which they may be in the position to educate, respond, intervene or support their peers,” Green said. “Our goal is to have as many students complete Haven as possible.”
Sophomore Gabriella Felipe said that as a freshman, she was also required to complete the Haven program. Some UC first year seminar professors require that their students complete Haven as part of their grade.
Felipe believes all students, especially first-year students, should complete the program.
“I think it’s very useful information,” Felipe said. “That’s the basic knowledge you need before being able to live on a campus.”
Joshua Henry, a senior and member of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, also believes everyone should complete the program.
“I do believe it should be mandatory for everyone because it excludes a majority of the community,” Henry stated. “There is no point to have 25 percent of students educated on sexual assault while the remaining 75 percent lack the information.”
Although all students may not complete Haven, there are a number of ways in which students can learn about sexual assault and the resources provided.
Alane Varga, dean for diversity and inclusion and Title IX coordinator, explains that there are many opportunities for students to learn about this topic.
“Haven is part of an overarching umbrella of educational training,” Varga explained. “I don’t think that should be the only way in which people receive information around sexual violence, which is why we do events like ‘Sex Ed Boot Camp.’”
Students can attend events hosted by on-campus organizations that also provide valuable information on how to respond to sexual assault. Organizations like the Womyn’s Resource Center have the freedom to plan and implement events to better reach the community and spread valuable knowledge and skills.
Overall, members of the Utica College community are encouraged to be active bystanders. An active bystander is one who observes a conflict or unacceptable behavior and takes the necessary steps to make a positive difference.
“From my own vantage point as a Title IX Coordinator, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking or violence of any kind can never be condoned or met with indifference,” Green said. “Turning a blind eye or creating an environment where sexual violence is accepted as a norm puts people in danger, strips people of dignity and impedes students’ ability to learn and thrive…we cannot have that.”
Any student who has questions or concerns can seek help through a number of resources both on and off campus. Campus safety, Title IX coordinators Lisa Green and Alane Varga are a few valuable resources someone can turn to.