Amid ongoing national discussions on campus sexual assault issues, Daemen College has been taking several proactive steps aimed at bolstering its sexual misconduct policies and campus-wide prevention and response efforts, including sponsoring a week of activities specifically addressing this important issue.
"The scope of Daemen's measures in prevention, education and services, as well as our efforts to refine the college's policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct, have positioned us to move ahead on many fronts that will meet the high standards of concern and safety we have for our students," Daemen President Gary A. Olson said. "Recognizing the immense significance of these ongoing initiatives, we are grateful for the support shown to address this issue by our political leaders, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Brian Higgins, Assemblyman Kenneth LaValle, chair of the State Assembly Committee on Higher Education, and others."
One of Daemen's key measures has been the formation of a sexual assault prevention and education task force, which is taking a holistic look at the college's policies, procedures and services. Another key charge of the group, which is made up of faculty, staff and students, is to implement an education program on sexual assault prevention for all first-year students, bystander intervention programs for student leaders, and workshops for faculty and staff on reporting systems, resources and other campus practices.
Dr. Greg Nayor, vice president for student affairs, who has spearheaded Daemen's efforts, explained, "this type of outreach and preventative approaches are critical to addressing this issue as a campus community. Ultimately, the primary purpose of all our collaborative efforts is to promote a campus culture that does not tolerate sexual violence and to ensure we have the appropriate services and resources in place for our students."
To help educate the Daemen community and raise awareness about sexual assault on college campuses, an array of programs will be held during the college's ACT Now Week (Feb. 9-13). Among the events planned for the campus community are:
•A discussion on "Love and Sex," including relationships and consent, by Brianna Harris, visiting assistant professor of psychology.
•Bystander intervention training will educate participants in this interactive session on identifying unhealthy relationships and intervention approaches.
•Solid Line Productions will give a stage reading of "Five Kinds of Silence," a play that focuses on domestic and sexual violence.
In the coming weeks, Daemen will conduct a campus climate survey to determine ways it may improve the college's educational efforts and programming.
Daemen's actions to address policies, prevention and response comes at a time when sexual assault on college campuses will once again be in the national spotlight with the expected March release of the new documentary "The Hunting Ground." Nayor said, "although the documentary will shed a stark light on a troubling issue, it will also help bring out meaningful discussions about positive actions Daemen and other colleges throughout the country have taken to combat sexual violence. Collectively, higher education institutions stand together against sexual assault and remain vigilant in efforts to stop this violent behavior."
In accordance with new federal regulations under the Violence Against Women Act, Daemen has diligently worked to comply with the law's requirements, implement effective procedures and engage the campus as a whole.
"Daemen is deeply committed to its responsibilities to educate the campus community about sexual assault and to respond to reports in a timely and appropriate way," said Dr. Kathleen Boone, associate vice president for academic affairs, associate dean and school Title IX coordinator. "While our initiatives are part of the college's larger work to comply with federal and state regulations, we also want to ensure our students feel safe and supported."