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College looks to bolster sexual violence prevention

On Monday, April 29, Nora Peterson, Carleton’s first full-time Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator, presented her plans for future prevention initiatives at CSA Senate. 

The most pressing issue Peterson cited was expanding primary response methods at Carleton. While tertiary responses provide support systems for survivors and punitive measures for perpetrators, primary responses address underlying sources of sexual violence on college campuses. Peterson hopes to bolster Carleton’s primary response capacities by creating comprehensive education programs for students.

Peer institutions, such as Bowdoin College, have annual mandatory programs during which students are re-familiarized with sexual violence prevention tactics. The only sexual education Carleton mandates, by contrast, is an online course first-years must complete prior to their arrival on campus. 

CSA Senate President Anesu Masakura explained that he does not think the current sexual violence prevention programs at Carleton are adequate. “As a college, we can definitely do more on that front by crafting a comprehensive prevention program that is class-specific and expands beyond the consent talk given during New Student Week,” said Masakura.

Peterson also discussed Green Dot, a bystander intervention program that aims to provide third-party individuals with the skills to intervene in situations where sexual violence may be imminent. Green Dot and the training it provides is considered a secondary response measure, according to Peterson.

The program is voluntary and requires six hours of training for students; faculty and staff, however, are only required to complete three hours in order to become certified. Peterson noted that she hopes more students will become Green Dot certified, but recognizes the time commitment involved often precludes interest. 

Additionally, Peterson expressed an interest in increasing Carleton’s Title IX presence on various social media platforms. Facebook and Instagram, she believes, are useful tools for disseminating information so that students are aware of the resources available to them. 

After Peterson’s presentation, she answered questions from Senators and other students who attended the meeting. Multiple students were curious to know more about the sexual violence prevention education faculty and staff members are required to complete. Peterson explained that this is handled by Human Resources, not Title IX. 

Kate Hoeting, a student at the meeting, highlighted the unique role sexual violence plays on a small college campus such as Carleton’s. “Walking around campus, students know who the repeat offenders are. It’s impossible to feel safe when at least once a day I run into a different person who has harassed or assaulted one of my friends,” said Hoeting.

“In short, I am hopeful,” said Masakura. “I am hopeful that together we can foster a campus culture free of sexual violence.”

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