‘Sober, Verbal Yes:’ A Preventative Program

By Kelsey Rettke

Beloit College’s Sexual Assault Awareness Program, now in its second year, responds to a rise in the number of reported sexual assaults on campus in the past three years. It is intended to educate students on the techniques of saying no to unwanted sexual contact and the necessity of a “sober, verbal yes” before any sexual behavior.

The crime statistics published by the college from 2008-2010 show that sexual assaults have risen. In 2008, there was one; it rose in 2009 to four and in 2010 to six.

John Winkelmann, associate dean of students and director of residential life, said, “If we break down the stats [from the 2010 total of 6 reports during the year] I see that we had two reports during the Fall ‘10 term and four reports during the Spring ‘11 term. The program was started in August 2010 so one could be encouraged by the increase in reports. I would expect an increase in reporting when the awareness is higher.”

However, Teresa Leopold, associate dean of students and director of advising, said, “There was a rather public discussion of sexual assault the year before. And there was a lot of [talk of] ‘What is the college doing about it?’ That really pushed me [to help start the program].”

The program consists of videos that all incoming students must view in the summer, as well as a number of discussions held with Residential Assistants and other campus leaders during New Student Days.

“I was looking for a way to reach students beyond the skits that the RA’s had [about sexual assault during New Student Days] and I came across these videos, and they were the best ones that I’ve seen,” Leopold said

The videos run through a number of different scenarios in which a student might find themselves and offer a number of techniques and dialogue that can help a student in a situation where sexual assault may potentially occur.

“I don’t think the videos in any way can be tied to an astronomical raise in the number of sexual assaults, and I think it’s the reporting more than anything else,” said Anthony Cornell’13, an RA who participated in group discussions about sexual assault and awareness during New Student Days.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a good thing, but I think it’s a sign that the videos are working to a degree because people realize now [who they should talk to] and now all that info is there to begin with for the freshmen,” Cornell said.

“I hope that students will take some time to reflect on a variety of situations that may arise and think carefully about how they interact with each other,” Winkelmann said.



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