Students take Bystander Education Course

On Oct. 3, students received an email from Dr. Allison Vetter announcing the deadline for the new Title IX training, which educates students on how to prevent sexual violence and gender misconduct. In years past, only athletes were required to complete this training. Now, all students are required to complete this digital training annually.

“[Completing the training will] help students know how to be good bystanders and know when to intervene in situations,” Title IX Investigator & Education Coordinator Dr. Allison Vetter said. “We want [students] to know who to contact if something happens.”

“I am hopeful that a training with a focus on bystander intervention will provide all our students with tools and ideas for how they can participate in preventing gender-based misconduct,” Title IX coordinator Shawn Goicoechea said. “Our students are safer when they play an active role in ensuring each other’s safety.”

The training contains a series of educational videos and simulations that promote a better understanding of consent and healthy relationships. The training lasts 20 to 30 minutes and is to be completed by all students before Nov. 1.

“The online training is just one piece,” Vetter said. “It is not meant to do everything. It is sort of the definitions and the serious side of the issue that sets up all the groundwork for sexual assault prevention.”

The Committee for Gender and Sexuality (COGS) will be hosting a week-long series of events from Oct. 22 to Oct. 26. These events will consist of entertaining activities that will further teach students about healthy relationships, consent, and sex education. Both this event and the Title IX training aim to help students understand boundaries and how to spot dangerous situations.

“I think these and other student-driven activities go hand-in-hand with the broader effort on campus to ensure our students are knowledgeable and aware on a variety of related topics,” Goicoechea said. “Students come to Hendrix from diverse backgrounds with diverse experience of sex education, because not all k-12 programs talk about consent. Being knowledgeable about healthy relationships and consent not only assists the students in those relationships but helps their friends and community be better bystanders [if] intervention is needed.”

Dr. Vetter also sees the benefit of having both students and faculty promote gender misconduct awareness.

“[COGS week and the training] complement one another,” Vetter said. “[Students] go to the COGS events and recognize the conversations that are introduced from the training that they already completed or vice versa. The more times we can get the message to students, the more it helps them remember and recognize [dangerous] situations.”

Since the discussion about sexual assault intensified last year with the Time’s Up Hendrix protests, faculty have noticed a heightened awareness of sexual misconduct on campus. Conversations have stemmed changes to campus policy and the process for examining claims of misconduct. Additionally, a staff member, Allison Vetter, has been added to the Title IX team. A number of committees have been engaged in the conversation about gender misconduct to ensure the campus continues its productive dialogue between faculty and students.  

“In the past year, increased awareness has led our campus to actively engage in some very difficult conversations that are productive and beneficial to the climate and overall efforts to address the issue of sexual assault,” Goicoechea said. “I hope to see positive engagement from the campus community in Dr. Vetter’s efforts on the areas of prevention and education, an area in which there is a great deal of opportunity for engagement and positive change.”

“If we are all taking responsibility for our campus, we’ll call each other out if we are not behaving like we should as a good community member,” Vetter said. “Also, if something happens, we will know how to report it.”

Student organizations and faculty members alike are taking extensive measures in developing forms of communication and increasing awareness on gender misconduct. However, faculty believe it is the responsibility of the individual to take both training and educational efforts into consideration in order to prevent gender-based misconduct.

“Preventing sexual assault and relationship violence is an ongoing and community-wide effort that cannot be solved by one office or a few individuals,” Goicoechea said.The work of student organizations such as COGS and programming activities from other offices, such as the great work Tonya Hale does in Student Activities, are all important pieces to awareness and education efforts on campus.”


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