An innovative approach to delivering important messages to incoming Wittenberg University students has recently caught the eye of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
For the past three years, Wittenberg has implemented a mandatory education and prevention program for all incoming students titled “Not Without Consent” (NWC) that takes place before the beginning of the fall semester as part of Wittenberg’s New Student Days. Additional training is offered at the beginning of the spring semester for new and transfer students.
NWC is a healthy relationship and bystander intervention program for incoming students at Wittenberg. The program will be awarded the 2 Days in May Promising Practice Award from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office in late May. This is the first time Wittenberg submitted an application for the award.
NWC was developed through a partnership with Wittenberg and Project Woman in Springfield, a local domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy organization. Developers are Brooke Wagner, assistant professor in the department of sociology and director of criminology and criminal justice, Laura Baxter, director of Project Woman, and Carol Nickoson, director of fraternity/sorority life and New Student Days at Wittenberg.This collaborative program introduces new students to campus expectations regarding healthy relationships and bystander intervention.
“Three years ago, we developed a new program focusing on the dynamics of healthy relationships – a program that uses evidenced-based practices to ensure a more engaging atmosphere for students. It is presented in smaller groups during New Student Days in the fall instead of talking to a large group of 500 or more,” said Wagner, who is also the director of Wittenberg’s Womyn’s Center. “It really is a strong program that has influenced the campus community and relies on students, faculty, staff, and the administration to be successful. Additionally, initial program assessments indicate that NWC is successful at promoting bystander intervention and informing students about Wittenberg’s policies and procedures. Data shows that it is working.”
A group from the Attorney General’s Office will be on campus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, to create content for a video of two of Wittenberg’s First Year Seminar classes. The video will then be distributed to other colleges. The classes will be taught by Wagner and Michael Anes, associate professor of psychology.
NWC is a one-hour-and-45-minute interactive program co-taught by one faculty/staff/coach member and one upper-level student to a single-gender class of no more than 20 students. The facilitators use a PowerPoint and a series of interactive activities to maintain audience attention during the presentation. These activities include a consent exercise where students have to practice saying ‘no’ to increasing amounts of pressure, a pop quiz discussing the material covered at the midpoint, and bystander intervention role-playing.
“I like the program because it is something that allows me to make a positive impact on our campus,” said Max Jump, a student facilitator who will graduate in 2017. Jump is a biology major from Chattanooga, Tenn. “We are able to teach new students about something that they have more than likely never been taught before.
“The program allows students to make a change on campus and for us to try our best to stop sexual assault on campus. The program has been one of the most positive experiences of my career. I have learned so much about myself,” Jump continued. “I think that this program has truly made our campus a much safer environment and has educated our campus. I think programs like this actually make a difference and allow people to look out for one another. I have seen people not be the bystander many times, and I would like to think that it is attributed to this program.”
Goals of the program include:
- To discuss university policies regarding sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, stalking, and sexual harassment, and to compare the university polices with Ohio state laws.
- To discuss the resources on campus and in the community for victims, and best practices for victims.
- To discuss sexual consent and healthy relationships in an attempt to build a consent culture on campus.
- To equip incoming students with the basics in bystander intervention.
- To allow students to feel more confident in intervening when peers exhibit inappropriate behavior.
- To have a reduced acceptance of rape myths after participating.
“We believe the success of this program thus far is due to the small group size, separation by gender and facilitation team,” Wagner said. “The program is co-delivered with the student and faculty/staff/coach facilitator working as a team. Incoming students can learn about bystander intervention from another student, which increases their likelihood to engage. Consistent with best practice approaches, the bystander intervention part of this program is taught by the student facilitator (under the supervision of a faculty member).”
It was recently announced that Wittenberg University is among several Ohio institutions that has received funding from the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s grant program to support the Green Dot Violence Prevention Strategy.
Wittenberg was successful in receiving both an individual grant of $7,500 for the Green Dot Violence Prevention Strategy, as well as a consortium grant of $50,000 with Wright State University, Shawnee State University, Urbana University, Central State University, Antioch College and Clark State Community College.
For more on the Green Dot Violence Prevention Strategy grant go to: http://www.wittenberg.edu/featured/2016/Green-Dotgrant
Representative of its ongoing commitment to preventing sexual assault and ensuring the health and wellness of all of its students, Wittenberg hosted a three-part lecture series for community professionals on June 29 and June 30. Alan Berkowitz, a psychologist with more than 25 years of experience in higher education as a trainer, faculty member and counseling center director led the sessions. For more information go to: http://www.wittenberg.edu/featured/2016/Assault-Conversation