The month of March brought Women’s History Month, which Columbia College celebrated with a series of events focused on the theme of “Challenging Rape Culture One Person at a Time.”
To close out the month, the college will offer the CC Safe Spaces: Express Yourself resource fair in Dorsey Gym March 31 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. The fair will provide resources and demonstrations from organizations such as True North, University of Missouri Green Dot and Columbia College Counseling Services that work with issues surrounding sexual violence. First lady Dr. Tina Dalrymple will also be on hand to challenge students in a dance-off.
The event is timely for another reason. April is national Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Colleges nationwide are bolstering the resources they provide students to avoid sexual violence on campus, and Columbia College is no different.
At the start of school each year, transfer students and the incoming freshmen class participate in an orientation that equips them to avoid or diffuse hazardous situations they may encounter in college, including sexual violence.
“Students are more susceptible to sexual assaults during their first few weeks on campuses nationwide due to the fact that they are typically still learning to navigate the college environment,” says Molly Borgmeyer, coordinator of Student Conduct. “This is one of the main reasons that we try to focus on programming at the front end of the student experience.”
The Elysium Players, the college’s drama club, stages vignettes depicting various scenarios that college students may face, including issues surrounding alcohol consumption and sexual violence, to help them think about how they would respond. This is coupled with bystander training called Step Up, which is administered by Chris Walters, area coordinator for Residential Life.
The bystander training breaks students into small groups and helps them to identify dangerous situations before they occur and how to intervene.
“We avoid terms like ‘victim’ and ‘assailant’ in the training,” says Walters. “It’s about seeing a potential problem and preventing it before there are any victims and assailants.”
Students also have the opportunity to take a two-hour online interactive course provided by Campus Clarity, a California-based workforce training service. During the training, students play games, follow the real-life scenarios of four fictional students and view candid video interviews of real college students. Students gain a peer-to-peer understanding of problems surrounding drinking, substance abuse and sexual assault – and how to handle them.
Students also watch a Campus Clarity video that approaches the concept of consent in a humorous and relatable way.
This past fall, all of Columbia College’s athletes voluntarily completed the Campus Clarity training. Students in INCC (Introduction to Columbia College) courses are required to complete the training.
In addition to resources and training provided to students of the main campus, Columbia College communicates with all Nationwide and Online Campus students at the start of each session to make them aware of resources available to them.
“Ultimately, Columbia College wants to create a caring, respectful, safe community,” says Walters.
For additional resources, including information on Title IX or prevention and safety tips, visit Columbia College Campus Safety.