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Sexual misconduct prevention and response at Binghamton
January 28, 2015Tweet
Binghamton University has taken proactive measures in a SUNY-wide process regarding sexual misconduct prevention and response, updating its sexual misconduct policies and training all staff in the Division of Student Affairs on the policies and campus resources that are available to students – well before the SUNY system requires it.
After sending staff to summer trainings with SUNY as well as attending state and national webinars, students and staff worked together to develop programs and update information provided to our students and families.
One of those programs was first-responder training, developed through a partnership with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Decker Student Health Services Center, Residential Life and the Dean of Students Office, was presented to over 400 staff and students at the start of the academic year. The 90-minute presentation was done four times, to groups of about 100 each, said Dean of Students April Thompson. “Presenters included Vice President Brian Rose and Chief Diversity Officer Valerie Hampton providing a University overview, Counseling Center staff on response to trauma, the Interpersonal Violence Prevention team on ways to get involved, residential life on options and case managers on communication skills,” said Thompson. “We videotaped the presentation so anyone who was unable to attend in person could view it. As of the beginning of spring semester, 100 percent of student affairs staff will have participated in the training.”
National and SUNY mandates don’t go into effect until later in 2015, Thompson said, “but we wanted to be out in front and have our staff trained. We didn’t want to wait so staff developed Binghamton-specific programming with expertise from a number of areas of the University. We have provided our training modules to SUNY Central to serve as a model for what others could do.
Additionally, our peer-based 20:1 prevention and bystander programs continue to be in high demand on our campus and among our peers. The 20:1 program was recognized recently on the Presidential honor roll as among our successful programs.
Binghamton was well prepared for the new policies that were released in December and has been in consultation with SUNY administration about how the changes will impact our campus. Last year, students and staff provided input to Code of Student Conduct changes that were approved by the Binghamton University Council. Updates to the code included changes to our sexual assault policies, updated definitions to be consistent with federal law and additional transparency in our process.
“We made significant improvements last year, including development of a Student Conduct Participant Guide that made our process transparent. Students have told us how helpful it has been this fall,” Thompson said. “Additionally, we created a sexual assault response team based on the national SART model that meets regularly to talk about how to handle cases and support affected students.
“Binghamton also made significant improvements to student onboarding last summer when we included a new module in all orientations for students and families about Title IX and sexual assault,” Thompson said. “In addition, each student participated in an online program, a small-group session in their residence halls, and off-campus students received additional information via a listserv, including a definition and explanation about sexual assault prevention. We worked to provide information to students before they arrived to campus, during Orientation and after they moved into their residence halls.”
The result of better education about sexual assault prevention and response is a higher number of reports, inquiries, concerns and complaints, Thompson said. “We working on collecting the data and anticipate greater numbers in the annual Clery and Student Conduct reports. It’s good thing because students are feeling like the University is a safe place to report and we see that as a positive.”
The University is also adding resources, including making the interpersonal violence prevention coordinator a full time prevention specialist while a search for a director of health promotions is under way. This new position will unite several areas to create a comprehensive University-wide plan for sexual assault prevention.
“We’re also tapping into faculty resources,” said Thompson. Binghamton has national experts in this area who can help train us and help the SART team move forward.
“Our goal continues for us to be out ahead of these issues. We don’t want to wait until we’re told we have to do something. We need to be out in front and pave the way.”
For information on the SUNY-wide sexual assault policy, see Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press release.