Editorial: Educating Students on Sexual Misconduct

Have you ever seen this? http://www.skidmore.edu/sexualmisconduct/ By The Editorial Board

 

As an educational institution, Skidmore is required to teach its students - not only about history or science, but also about how to be good global citizens. We are put in various situations that require us to act as responsible students and members of a community. Standards are set by the school: follow the honor code, abide by drinking and drug laws, respect one another - yet Skidmore does not do enough to discuss sexual assault. It seems that students have been producing the most conversation. Between hearsay emails and Facebook groups - it is clear that the reigns are in the hands of the student body, not the administration. Granted, there are green posters that are in every room on campus; however, those green signs are often overlooked and simply state the steps one can take in managing sexual assault, post-occurrence. Most students are well-versed in the AOD policy. They understand preventative measures one can take to avoid acquiring points here and there because the AOD system is written in chart form and placed within all residential hall bathrooms. Unlike sexual misconduct, the AOD policy is driven into our minds.

Sexual assault does not have the same set of educational measures instituted. The preventative measures are not discussed enough; therefore, students lack education on this matter. We are programmed to comprehend what is considered “right” or “wrong,” yet at an institution where “wrong” has consequences, it seems only fair that students be educated on sexual misconduct, just like they are with the AOD policy. Due to the nature of offenses and the less concrete sanctions, the sexual assault policies are much harder to find than the AOD policy. Rather than being posted in bathrooms around campus, the sexual assault policy lives online in long-form PDF. Students don’t know the repercussions of violating sexual misconduct policy

The editorial board was in agreement that Skidmore should emphasize preventative measures in the domain of sexual assault within the first year experience.

Skidmore has increased programs this year including that of the Social Norms Campaign and “The First 6 Weeks.” Employing all of these aspects are fantastic, but their focus centralizes around addressing broad themes of alcohol education and only briefly detail sexual and gender-based misconduct and do not mention sanctions.

Yes, if you investigate Skidmore’s, “The First 6 Weeks” webpage you will see a statement that, “Skidmore College is committed to promoting a campus environment where sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and exploitation are not tolerated;” however, these few paragraphs are not satisfactory enough to be claimed as a “discussion” about sexual assault.

The editorial board believes that added discussions across campus through lectures, debates and mandatory class sessions would emphasize better behavior on campus. The board felt that the fourth credit hour of the Scribner Seminar would benefit from devoting a mandatory class session to sexual assault. Many times that fourth hour is disregarded, but it can be used for something better - a look at sexual assault and certain preventative measures.

Skidmore should make the campus more aware of preventative measures when it comes to sexual assault. Campaign posters for various other first year programs are in surplus, so why not add another component? If Skidmore can inform us of the repercussions of drinking under the age of 21 (which we all know is illegal), than Skidmore can inform us of sexual misconduct--preventative aspects and potential consequences for violated Skidmore’s code of conduct. Creating posters is always a creative, yet captivating way to catch a student’s attention, or adding a mandatory fourth credit hour conversation on the matter would benefit students facing such a tough topic. Perhaps if Skidmore worked harder to make these policies more apparent in our everyday life, then sexual assault would decrease. “Racy readers” might further some knowledge regarding the matter, but they can only be so effective. Despite their quick read - they do not do enough to establish methods for informing students about preventative measures. Skidmore needs to take charge and stop the problem at the root.

As students approach the “real world” it is necessary that we are able to have discussion about topics such as sexual assault, and it is necessary that Skidmore help to furnish these talks. Discussions like these would lead to students becoming respectful and intelligent citizens in their own communities.

 

For more information on sexual misconduct policy:

Investigating Sexual Misconduct: Skidmore's Policy (Part 1)

Also, we encourage participation in an on-going gender and sexual based misconduct survey being conducted by the Office of Health promotions.

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