By Rachel Yehoda, Program Coordinator (Prevention & Education)
This year, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC)’s theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) 2017 was “Engaging New Voices”. The focus has been on addressing social norms that perpetuate sexual violence and changing the culture through engaging new audiences in our prevention efforts. In this quarter’s Prevention Corner, we spoke with Tiffany Fountaine Boykin, Assistant Dean of Student Services, and Danielle Brookhart, Coordinator of New Student Engagement, from Anne Arundel Community College, to discuss how their campus participated in SAAM 2017 and how they are engaging new voices all year long through their prevention initiatives on campus.
1. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Danielle Brookhart, Coordinator of New Student Engagement & Tiffany Fountaine Boykin, Assistant Dean, Student Services.
2. What kinds of sexual violence prevention and education efforts are you involved in on your campus?
In an effort to promote campus safety through prompt reporting and equitable resolution of all gender-based harassment and sexual misconduct incidents, the College has established a Safety Awareness for Everyone (SAFE) program. The SAFE program at AACC is dedicated to strengthening sex abuse education, prevention, and response. Through special lectures and events, and extracurricular activities, we provide comprehensive education opportunities and resources for students, administrators, and survivors to build awareness, respond to, and prevent incidents of campus sexual violence and gender-based harassment. The SAFE Program offers the following education and programming, including, but not limited to:
3. What plans does Anne Arundel Community College have for SAAM 2017? Any special events or programs you would like to highlight?
The College is engaging in a number special lectures and events hosted by an array of campus offices and departments including the Office of Student Engagement, Service Learning, Public Safety, Health Services, Athletics, and Human Services. Two of our feature events for SAAM include an interactive dialogue and a walk. On April 13, at 2pm in the Kaufman Theater, we hosted an interactive dialogue entitled Sex Signals. Sex Signals has become one of the most popular sexual assault prevention programs on college campuses through its unorthodox, humor-facilitated approach to examining our culture, sex, and the core issue of bystander intervention. On Tuesday, April 25th, as part of our Campus that Cares Day, and in conjunction with the Anne Arundel County Sexual Assault Response Team and the YWCA, the College hosted a Sexual Assault Awareness Walk. The walk is the central feature of the Campus That Cares Day activities and people can walk any time between 11 AM and 1:30 PM. Participants are welcome to walk individually, but we’re also encouraging classes and office departments to walk as a team. Participants were asked to bring an item to donate to the YWCA.
4. This year’s theme for SAAM 2017 is ‘Engaging New Voices’, where the focus is on changing the culture in order to prevent sexual violence and involving new voices in our prevention efforts. Who are some of the audiences that you would like to reach with your sexual violence prevention efforts this April?
At Anne Arundel Community College (AACC), we value integrity, responsibility, and respect for the rights and interests of others—concepts central to the College’s mission and vision. We understand that all members of our campus community have an important role to play in the prevention of all forms of violence against women—including sexual assault and domestic and dating violence. We’re excited for opportunities to engage newer voices (on our campus) in our prevention efforts including male athletes and administrators.
5. What events/programs have proved especially successful on your campus in past SAAMs?
Again, our Sex Signals event has become one of the most popular sexual assault prevention programs on our campus. Commuter community college students often have fewer opportunities to attend and participate in on-campus events, as they are often juggling competing priorities outside of the classroom. Nonetheless, we’ve enjoyed increased attendance and participation from our students, as well as faculty and staff, in this event. They’ve enjoyed learning through the culturally relevant aspects of the program.
6. What do you think is the biggest obstacle to justice for sexual assault survivors on college campuses today?
Unfortunately, there are several barriers to justice for sexual assault survivors. We believe that one of the biggest barriers is the societal stereotyping as to whom is “credible” and is considered a “legitimate” victim of sexual violence. Often, sexual assault narratives that include victims who identify as persons of color, previous rape survivors, persons with mental health difficulties or disabilities, lower income, transgender or gender nonconforming, and/or men are discouraged from reporting or not as likely to be believed when they do report.