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Expanding Your Allies on Campus
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Expanding Your Allies on Campus
Most campus anti-violence groups or offices have established contact with a range of other on-campus allies, including law enforcement, administration, student health, student life, and residence halls, in the process of providing basic services to victims of sexual violence. These relationships remain critical to campus advocates’ work. However, there may be other groups on campus who can become integral partners. Since sexual violence affects everyone, directly or indirectly, we encourage you to consider many groups on campus to be potential allies in this work.
In reaching out to new partners, try to frame the importance of sexual violence prevention for each group based on their needs and expertise and what benefits and experiences you can offer in exchange for their support or help. Below are some suggestions for expanding your partnerships on campus when doing your Sexual Assault Awareness Month and prevention work. Some of these new partners may be able to provide a specific service for your cause, while also creating an opportunity to bring in new students and faculty who may not be aware of your work. In addition, joining forces with groups that share a similar mission or social justice point of view can help to create more effective campus-wide change.
Consider reaching out to your university’s marketing faculty. If your university has a school of business, this might be the place to start, but many colleges have some sort of marketing and advertising classes even if they are not part of a separate professional school. Professors and students in these programs may be able to help you “sell” both your primary prevention messages and your services using their advanced knowledge of marketing strategy. Students in marketing classes often have to do projects that require finding potential “clients” and planning and implementing a full campaign. Your organization can position itself as a client in need of these free services that also provides the student and department with a chance to give back to the campus community. The students (or professors) may be able to help you do audience research, narrow down your target audience, craft catchy messages, and come up with creative channels for getting your message out. In addition, you will be reaching a new audience with information about sexual violence and its prevention, perhaps bringing in students with a different set of experiences.
Art and Design Department
If you’re looking for creative logos and designs for projects, reach out to the art department. Again, students are often looking for projects and may be able to help you come up with something unique and eye-catching. In addition, since they are students, they may be part of your target audience and can provide immediate feedback on design. Hold a contest for art students at your school to collect multiple ideas. Use the winning design in a poster campaign. Another way that this collaboration could come in handy is if you are planning a survivor art exhibit. You could talk to people in the art school for suggestions on how to plan an exhibit and the best venues on campus for this type of event.
Sociology, Psychology, and Gender/Women’s Studies Departments
Any of these programs will have training for students in research methods, particularly at the graduate level. A critical component of making the case to your administration that you need institutional support for sexual violence prevention and services is to show that it is a problem specifically on your campus. Students and faculty in these departments (and many others with research training) may already be studying the prevalence of sexual violence on your campus, student attitudes and beliefs about sexual violence, and/or gender disparities. Partner with them to use that research as you make your case to the administration and then as you plan prevention efforts. If no one is working on this area of research, perhaps faculty in these departments can identify interested students looking for a research project, internships, or service learning who may be able to work with you.
In addition, evaluation is a critical part of assessing the effectiveness of your work on campus, and experts in these departments are trained in process and outcome evaluation. They may be able to help you design an evaluation plan and possibly analyze your data.
Students from Diverse Racial and Ethnic Backgrounds
Students from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds experience disproportionately high rates of sexual violence, so it is critical that their voices be represented in this work, both at the individual and at the systemic levels. Addressing sexual violence calls for an understanding of how identities, such as race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, age, and sexual orientation, affect how people access services and participate in prevention programs. Your campus’s office of multicultural student affairs (or similar organization) may be a good resource to help you strategize about reaching out to students from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds. They may also be able to help you identify ways to better meet the unique needs of these students when it comes to sexual assault services and prevention work. These offices might be able to help you refine and tailor your messages for students who may not be familiar with your programs or feel comfortable using your services.
Also consider identifying student groups, such as the Multiethnic Student Association (MESA) or other student organizations that represent different ethnic or racial groups to create partnerships and unify the work. It is crucial part of collaboration for your organization to support events sponsored by your campus partners who are working to create an inclusive and equitable campus climate. It is important to create multi-racial/ethnic alliances in the pursuit of sexual assault prevention.
Websites that provide information about diversity, cultural competency, and multicultural outreach and education:
• National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME)
• Multicultural Pavilion
• Southern Poverty Law Center Teaching Tolerance project (for K-12, but still relevant for college populations)
Resources specifically related to sexual assault:
• National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault (SCESA)
• Incite! Women of Color Against Violence
• Women of Color Network (WOCN)
Bringing men on campus into this work is a key part of primary prevention and long-term social change. Not only do men experience sexual violence, but it impacts their partners, siblings, parents, and other people that they love. Changing the norms that support violence against women requires the support and insight of men of all ages and backgrounds.
To get started, make a list of the groups and organizations that are comprised of men or mostly men (e.g., fraternities, athletic teams, etc.) Approach the leaders of these groups with a specific request, such as giving a workshop during a team or club meeting when you will have a captive audience. Detail the amount of time that you are asking for so they know what to expect. Offer something in exchange, if possible, like free food, or see if it is possible for their participation in your program to count for community service requirements they may have.
When you come in to speak to the men, give them a chance to share their stories about the impact of sexual violence on themselves and the people they love; most of them want to help but just do not know how. Emphasize the positive roles that men have in preventing sexual violence and promoting healthy, equitable relationships, such as by asking for consent, refraining from making derogatory jokes and comments about the women around them, and by speaking up when they see another man acting inappropriately.
Once you have gotten your foot in the door the first time, it may be easier to go back and build one-on-one relationships with male leaders around campus. Consider hosting a men’s group through your organization or program for campus men, inviting them to further discuss their role in creating new non-violence masculinities and using their influence on campus for good. Some examples of campus men’s programs include:
• Men Can Stop Rape’s Campus Strength Program
• Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Program
• One in Four
• Harvard University’s MenSpeakUp.org
• Washington University in St. Louis’ Men Organized for Rape Education Program
LGBTQ Student Groups
Groups with students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ) often share a mission to promote respect, equality, and social change. In addition, these students are often underrepresented in anti-sexual violence efforts, even though the rate of violence in the LGBTQ community is similar to heterosexual relationships, and is in fact higher for reported lifetime experience of sexual violence. Partnering with these students and campus centers will help you develop culturally competent materials and services for LGBTQ victims and individuals interested in becoming part of the prevention movement.
Since some students may be more connected to community-based LGBTQ groups than campus-based groups, consider reaching out to faith communities that are inclusive and supportive or to national organizations like Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Human Rights Campaign, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), or others in your area. Social networking websites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) could also be a particularly effective means of communication and recruitment for students who may not feel comfortable attending an in-person meeting and identifying themselves, but would like to participate in something online.
Keep in mind that it may take years to develop relationships across student groups/communities. Seek out faculty and staff who may be able to help, especially since the student turnover rate detracts from having longevity/momentum. Here are some online resources to assist with your outreach efforts to the LGBTQ community:
• GLBT Student Pride Network
• National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (has local programs in many cities around the U.S)
• Campus Pride
• Delta Lambda Phi
• Consortium of Higher Education Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Professionals
• National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce Campus Resources