By Elaina Rollins ’16, News Editor
Just before the start of second semester, Trinity College released the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services’ (CONNSACS) official Campus Report Card. This report card, which was released to the public on January 17, is an overview of current sexual assault policies and practices at private and public Connecticut colleges and universities. The report grades these Connecticut institutions on fifteen different topics that address sexual response issues on college campuses.
CONNSACS, which works with the Connecticut College Consortium Against Sexual Assault and the Connecticut Campus Coalition to End Violence Against Women, graded schools based on research collected through survey responses at twenty-one of Connecticut’s schools. Previous Campus Report Cards were published in 1999 and 2007. The 2012 Report Card panel discussion was hosted in the Smith House on Trinity’s campus, and Director of the Trinity College Women, Gender, & Resource Action Center (WGRAC) Laura Lockwood served as a panelist.
This year’s Campus Report Card offered very high marks for written school policies that address sexual violence and for post-assault response action. The only category that Connecticut colleges and universities failed in was mandatory sexual assault response education and training for members of Greek organizations. When probed about this failing grade, Lockwood noted that the failure does not apply to only sororities or only fraternities.
Most campuses in Connecticut do not have a policy that mandates training for students involved in Greek life. At Trinity, this failing grade will hopefully change soon. Last year a law was passed which requires all Connecticut campuses to educate its students about sexual assault prevention and awareness. As the director of WGRAC, Lockwood hopes to educate all students about bystander behavior and the differences between issues such as sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Lockwood also noted that although the recent co-educational mandate at Trinity is in no way directly correlated to sexual violence on campus, she believes the mandate may help improve Trinity’s overall campus climate. She explained that, “It seems to me that the more inclusive student organizations are, and the more fair, then maybe that would help create a more respectful and welcoming environment for women and all students.”
The Campus Climate Report awarded an “A” to Connecticut colleges and universities for crafting policies that include a definition of sexual assault and consent. Trinity’s freshman orientation educates students about these policies during a grade-wide informational meeting and activity about sexual assault. This mandatory programming has been in place for first-years for over fifteen years. Currently, these programs include a brief play and small-group discussions.
The Campus Climate Report gave a “D” to the Connecticut schools’ mandatory sexual assault training for Critical Response Team (CRT) and Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) members. At Trinity, this grade does not apply. All SART members are trained in this area. Lockwood explained that SART members at Trinity receive specific training about how to respond to survivors and victims that is more in-depth than the average student may receive.
One of WGRAC’s biggest accomplishments in recent years is its new bystander behavior training program. Bantams Negating Traditional Stereotypes (BANTS) works to increase students’ awareness of dangerous behavior so that they can hopefully intercept problematic situations. BANTS seeks to create a community that eliminates violence and injustice. As of now, several coaches have received this bystander training, and administrators have worked with student leaders and Greek pledges. Trinity also requires mandatory bystander behavior training for PRIDE leaders and Resident Assistants.
One of WGRAC’s main missions is to improve the overall campus culture at Trinity. Since Lockwood began working at Trinity fifteen years ago, she has seen lots of improvement. However, Lockwood still believes that, “Overall, our campus needs help.” In voicing her concerns, Lockwood also offered praise to those students who are trying to improve the climate. But overall, she still sees room for lots of improvement. Lockwood noted that, “If we have a climate on campus that is hostile to women… that can give rise to sexual violence.”