Support Students in the classroom.
As a professor, you are likely trusted by many of your students, especially first year students. There may be a time when students come to you regarding a sexual assault, before that happens, you can do the following to support your students both in and out of the classroom to make your community a safer place.
If you are a mandatory reporter, make sure that your students are aware. If you have an opportunity to weight in on mandatory reporting policies, we recommend standing in opposition of mandatory reporting to local law enforcement. We trust and support survivors to make informed decisions if they are given all the right information.
Whether or not you are a mandatory reporter, encourage the administration to appoint a confidential advocate for student survivors.
Informing your students of their rights
While all post-secondary institutions are required to make students aware of their Title IX and Title II rights, some professors have taken to including them on their syllabi. You can also include resources such as the Title IX coordinator contact information, external resources like a local rape crisis center, and more.
Survivors of sexual violence can experience negative mental health outcomes, all of which can and should be addressed by the school's Title II or Accessibility/Disability Office. Provide them with campus resources, and remind them that they should process and heal in whatever way is best for them. If your student doesn't have official accommodations you can refer them to Title II resources on your campus, and exercise understanding and flexibility in the context of your classroom.
Consider Assigning We Believe You as a required text for your class.
We Believe You is a powerful collection of 36 stories of survival, healing and everyday activism. It elevates the stories of marginalized populations including students of color, LGBT folks, and male survivors. This text is used in legal classrooms, the humanities, and has been proposed as a summer reading book. Consider including this valuable resource in your curriculum and encourage your school to use it as a text for summer programs.
Create reform at your school.
Ask critical questions of your administrators
- Does your sexual violence and harassment policy have an amnesty clause for non-violent conduct violations? (for example, if a student reports a sexual assault and was drinking, does the policy explicitly say that this student will not get in trouble with the school for consuming alcohol?)
- Does the Title IX Coordinator receive annual training that is trauma-informed?
- Are resources for survivors accessible online, including an online reporting option? If so, how are they publicized?
- Is there mandatory prevention education on campus? Is the training given to small groups of students, or is it held in large lecture halls? Do the trainings teach students how to be active bystanders and inform them of ways to practice affirmative consent?
If your school answers any of these questions with “no” or “I’m not sure,” put pressure on the administration to make sure the answers become “yes!” This could include writing an open letter with other students or alumni in the local or student newspaper.
Host a screening of The Hunting Ground for University officials:
Call on your administrators and trustees to host a private screening of The Hunting Ground. Encourage them to consider the trends revealed in the film, and to follow the many administrations across the nation that are taking action.
Faculty trainings on sexual violence
If your administration has not yet included faculty trainings outside of employee harassment, encourage the administration to train all professors. Demand that your university move beyond compliance to support survivors and prevent sexual violence.
Engage critically in the faculty trainings. Ask questions like, "why are we asking young female students to walk in groups?" or "won't telling survivors that re-traumatize them?"
If you think the Title IX officer at your school isn't using the best practices, you can send them updated resources.
Your stance as a college or university employee is important in the political discourse surrounding campus sexual assault. What you ask of your senators and members of congress, and your state legislature, matters on both the federal and state level. There are many ways to reach your elected officials. Check out our policy reform guide to get started.
Activism takes many forms. By supporting survivors and refusing to ignore this epidemic, you are engaging in activism.
Never forget to support survivors, trust survivors, and believe survivors. You can find a good collection of resources here.
- To Become a Teacher: Sexual Assault Prevention: A Guide for Students, Educators, and School Administrators
- Know Your IX: Supporting High School Survivors, Teachers
- Not Alone: Guidelines and Recommendations for Schools