Attention: College students, parents, faculty, staff, and administrators. Did you know that sexual assaults are more likely to occur during the beginning of the fall term than any other time of the year? Millions of college students will soon return to school, and according to research for the National Institute of Justice, reports of sexual assault are most frequent during the months of September and October. Student organizing around issues of sexual violence continues to grow on the national and campus levels. Know Your IX is a national "survivor-run, student-driven campaign" against sexual violence that provides resources and multiple avenues for becoming involved. At individual campuses, student groups are putting together events, raising awareness, and developing new creative ways to build and sustain momentum. Now, faculty members are also organizing. Faculty Against Rape (FAR) officially launched on Monday, August 25th with the mission of getting "more faculty involved in sexual assault issues on campus, and to protect faculty members who experience retaliation for doing so." FAR's three main goals include developing resources for faculty to better serve survivors, helping faculty who want to be part of the anti-rape movement organize on campus, and providing strategy and legal resources for faculty who are retaliated against by administrations. Retaliation is illegal, and reports of retaliation against faculty members for their involvement in efforts to support campus sexual assault survivors made headlines earlier this year at Harvard and Occidental College. Beyond how-to guides for filing Title IX and Clery Act complaints, the site also includes classroom resources such as articles about professor experiences with students who disclose sexual assaults, and a sexual violence response guide. An anti-sexual misconduct toolkit contains links to activities for supporting classroom discussions about assault, tips on presenting sexual violence issues to students, background information, statistics, and more.
"I was invited to join the group from a friend at another campus and will be working with other SDSU colleagues this year to bring more attention to the issue," said Ronnee Schreiber, Professor of Political Science at San Diego State University. "In fact, we're hosting a Gender Justice in the 2014 Elections symposium in October in which this issue will be featured." Members of the Faculty Against Rape advisory board include national experts on gender-based violence, community educators, filmmakers, and activists, and faculty members at campuses including Scripps College, West Virginia University, University of Wollongong (Australia), Oklahoma State University, University of Oregon, University of Arizona, Vassar College, Lehigh University, and Cornell University. "As a student and as a survivor, I'm very excited about an organization like FAR," said Jay Jenkins, Associated Students Chief of Staff at California State University Long Beach and sexual assault student advocate. "It is my hope that there will be more support for survivors on campuses than ever before. It's been too long that survivor voices has been neglected and forgotten at universities. FAR recognizes there is a huge problem in regards to student safety, and access to education if relationship violence like this continues." As of this writing at the start of the 2014-15 academic year, more than 75 colleges and universities remain under federal investigation for how they handle campus sexual assaults. On some campuses work is being done to improve sexual assault prevention and response policies. On other campuses administrators are sidestepping improvements to safety, instead throwing tens of thousands of dollars at consultants who offer trainings and seminars to keep schools technically in compliance and out of court. Curious about what your school is doing to improve sexual assault prevention and response policies? #AskYourCampus.
Nina M. Flores is a PhD candidate at UCLA, an instructor in the Social & Cultural Analysis of Education program at Long Beach State, and works with The OpEd Project. Follow her on twitter @bellhookedme.