As many of you know, the month of April celebrates Sexual Assault Awareness. Throughout the month, the campus will be covered in teal. Students, staff, and faculty members will raise awareness through events and speakers, all in the name of survivors. In addition to taking part in the many events sponsored by the Sexual Assault Awareness Month task force, we have also launched a Campus Climate Survey to assess our students' current attitudes, perceptions and experiences specific to sexual assault and relationship violence. This survey will assist the University in identifying key areas of strength and opportunities to improve our prevention initiatives. Much of this evidence will inform future campus awareness, policy, prevention, and response programming.
At Auburn University, we provide prevention and response initiatives, not only in April, but throughout the entire calendar year. Prevention of sexual assault and relationship violence at Auburn University begins during orientation. Students and parents are educated about Auburn University policy, prevention and intervention delivered by a host of coordinating offices including Title IX, The Office of Student Conduct, Health Promotion and Wellness Services, Auburn University Public Safety, and the City of Auburn Police Department. This year all incoming students will be required to complete an online prevention program called HAVEN. HAVEN meets students where they are while educating them to identify relationship violence, reaffirm communicating consent, and instills skill development when intervening in the college environment as a bystander.
In the area of intervention, Health Promotion and Wellness Services houses Safe Harbor, a sexual assault advocacy program. Safe Harbor is a free confidential advocacy service available to assist students and employees who have experienced sexual misconduct, connecting them to resources on and off-campus. Safe Harbor works closely with the Lee County Sexual Assault Response Team, chaired by Auburn University Public Safety. This multi-disciplinary team involves medical, enforcement, conduct, and advocacy representatives who work to improve procedures and response in the county. The most consistent referral that Safe Harbor makes is to Student Counseling Services and Employee Assistance. Counselors can support and strengthen recovery efforts for survivors.
Beginning next year, in fall 2015, students and staff will have the opportunity to participate in Green Dot Bystander Intervention training and social marketing campaigns highlighting bystanders in our community. The Green Dot program will run continually, training individuals and groups in prosocial bystander intervention techniques. The program encourages every member of the Auburn Community to play a role in ending sexual violence embracing the philosophy, “no one has to do everything, buy everyone has do something."
Building a comprehensive campus-based primary prevention strategy for sexual misconduct and evaluating its effectiveness is important to Auburn University. In addition to these programs and services, revisions of the Student Code of Conduct and the Title IX policy over the summer semester will convey a consistent message. There are many offices and staff that work together to improve the individual, the organization and the community prevention and response strategy in regard to sexual assault. This April, let’s spread the word and become more aware of the work that the University has done to reduce sexual assault in our community.