Those on campus tasked with providing education on preventing and responding to IPV and other forms of gender-based violence continue to encounter the same challenge: Reaching all staff and faculty to provide the required prevention and response training.
Campus stakeholders meet to brainstorm ways to respond to this challenge in a coordinated way.
While meeting with campus stakeholders, prevention staff discover that many faculty and staff do not realize the IPV training they had been asked to attend in the past was different than their annual Human Resources Sexual Harassment Policy training online. Additionally, most faculty and staff were not aware that they were ‘responsible employees’ and therefore must report to the school if they become aware of any IPV involving a student.
What are some methods for ensuring that faculty and staff get the required training? What are some ways to persuade faculty and staff of the importance of these trainings?
The Guiding Principles and Their Implications
#1 — Prevention and response training should be in-depth and ongoing. IPV, stalking, and sexual violence are common but very complex issues. In order to make the campus safer, staff, faculty, and students need this level of training.
Individuals who are employed by the university should be required to attend training on sexual misconduct, intimate partner violence, and stalking prevention and response. This training should clearly explain that it covers employees’ responses to student reports of IPV, stalking and/or sexual violence, and is distinct from any Human Resources policies/trainings covering employee misconduct.
The Office for Civil Rights recommends that specific response training be provided to any employees likely to witness or receive reports of sexual harassment and violence, including instructors/faculty, law enforcement, administrators, counselors, general counsels, health personnel, clergy, and resident advisors.
Schools need to ensure that their employees are trained regularly so that they know they must notify the to appropriate school officials of IPV and other harassment, and so that employees with the authority to address harassment know how to respond properly. Employees need to be very clear on what paperwork they are supposed to submit and to whom when a student discloses IPV, stalking and/or sexual violence.
Utilizing social math, campus prevention staff can convey to faculty that in every class on campus there are likely students who have experienced IPV. This can help convey the relevance of the training to faculty and staff’s everyday work. Emphasizing that, at some point in their career, a student will probably confide in them can raise the sense of urgency that they be prepared ahead of time with knowledge of how to respond effectively and compassionately.
Supervisors can be encouraged to make this training part of each employee’s annual performance evaluation.
#2 — Education should be research-based, trauma-informed, and specific to your campus’ needs. Consultation and partnership with campus and/or local IPV experts is key.
Training for employees should include practical information about how to identify and report sexual harassment and violence, as well as basic safety planning techniques.
Summer breaks are usually convenient times to train most staff since there are fewer students on campus. Faculty meetings, department-wide meetings, and new staff orientation sessions are efficient ways to reach multiple staff/instructors at one time.
Campus security personnel and Title IX and disciplinary staff should have training that covers the neurobiology of trauma and trauma-informed interviewing techniques, among other topics listed in this section on training for these populations.
#3 — Messages should focus on reducing risk factors, come from all parts of campus, and reach constituents multiple times. Messages about primary prevention should focus on reducing risk factors for perpetrating intimate partner and sexual violence, not just on increasing protective factors for potential victims/survivors. These messages are also important for supporting victims/survivors.
Training for staff should be clear, comprehensive and high dosage.
Instructional employees can request IPV experts to speak in their classes in order to maximize the breadth and depth of IPV related education on campus.
Instructional employees should set clear guidelines for in-person and online class discussions at the beginning of the term and refer back to them throughout the term. Instructional employees should explicitly state that racist, homophobic, sexist, violent, and rape-promoting language will not be tolerated. In addition to enforcing these expectations with their students, instructional employees should also hold themselves accountable to the guidelines.
Instructional employees can add a syllabus note explaining their own reporting responsibilities. They should use content warnings in classes/courses where gender-based violence is a topic. Regardless of whether or not instructional employees include notes in their syllabi, they should make sure students know what to do if they are re-traumatized or otherwise upset by class information or discussions.
Primary prevention and harm reduction messaging should come from various departments and constituents, such as Residence Life, campus police, Student Conduct, Religious Life, Greek Life, administrators, etc. For more information on how to plan and diversify messaging, visit the section below on OVW’s Suggested Three Stage Prevention and Education Program.
#4 — Prevention should be culturally relevant, appropriate, inclusive, and informed by students, especially victims/survivors. Efforts should be responsive to the needs of marginalized and oppressed groups represented on campus, especially LGBTQI+ students, students with disabilities, and students of color. Student input should be a predominant feature in educational or prevention messaging and curriculum development. Messaging should never reinforce negative stereotypes.
Instructional employees should understand that oppression is the root cause of gender-based violence and that to effectively eliminate it, they must also work to eliminate other oppressions such as sexism, racism and homophobia. They should ensure that the information and perspectives presented in class reflect this framework.
Prevention specialists at all institutions should ensure that the images and voices of LGBTQI+ students, students with disabilities, students of color, and students with other oppressed and marginalized identities are visible and work to ensure these images do not reinforce negative stereotypes.
#5 — Create a comprehensive, strategic plan for implementing, assessing, and evaluating prevention efforts. Developing a comprehensive plan, including evaluation, should be the first step of prevention work.
A truly comprehensive prevention plan considers the needs of staff/faculty as well as students. Staff training is required under Title IX.
Before a training is developed and administered, ask yourself, “What are we trying to change? How will we measure that?” Measure the resulting changes and use that information to improve education efforts going forward.
Links to evaluation resources:
For an Example of a Comprehensive Prevention Plan, visit this site.