Earlier this term, Carleton’s Physical Education, Athletics, and Recreation department (PEAR) established the Sexual Violence Prevention Athletics Advisory committee (SVPAAC) in collaboration with the college’s Title IX Office. According to Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator Nora Peterson, the committee was created as a platform for student-athletes’ perspectives on Carleton’s sexual violence prevention, education, resources and training provisions.
“The primary goal of this committee is to provide student suggestions, reactions, insights and opinions concerning sexual violence prevention programming,” explained Peterson. She added that the creation of a student-athlete committee will facilitate the college’s commitment to creating “a campus community free of violence, where all students are able to learn and thrive.”
According to Associate Athletic Director Heidi Jaynes, the committee was formed in light of two recent changes in Carleton’s policy requirements and staffing capacities. In 2017, the NCAA implemented a new Sexual Violence Prevention Education Policy requiring all collegiate-level varsity atheletes, coaches and administrators to participate in sexual violence prevention training on an annual basis.
“We see this policy as an enormous opportunity to work with our student-athletes to provide relevant and meaningful sexual violence prevention programming,” Jaynes stated.
In light of the policy revamp, Carleton now requires student-athletes to participate in the Green Dot Bystander Intervention program—a six-hour interactive training session designed to equip students with the skills to identify and mediate instances of power-based personal violence. Jaynes noted that student-athletes may also complete Sexual Assault Prevention education modules or recieve sexual assault prevention training during New Student Week.
Last term, the college brought Emmy-nominated filmmaker and activist Byron Hurt to Carleton as part of its sexual violence prevention and education programming. All varsity athletes were required to attend the presentation. According to Jacob Smith, sports editor for the Carletonian, many students found the lecture unfulfilling because it addressed women passively, exploiting their fears and vulnerabilities as an opportunity for teaching men about the consequences of their behavior without engaging female audience members directly. One female student-athlete with whom Smith spoke noted that Hurt’s talk was disappointing because it “was supposed to be our big NCAA talk on sexual violence, and it wasn’t geared towards women at all. It was only geared toward men.”
When asked by the Carletonian if SVPAAC was formed in light of students’ negative reactions to Hurt’s talk, Jaynes stated that it was not. She added that multiple Carleton athletes had previously communicated interest in being more involved in sexual violence prevention and education on campus. “We therefore invited 11 of those student-athletes, and all 11 accepted our invitation,” Jaynes explained.
Jaynes and Peterson both stated that the college’s creation of a Sexual Violence Prevention coordinator postition—now filled by Peterson—is the second change responsible for catalyzing the committee’s formation. With the added support this role provides, Peterson explained, Carleton has been able to augment its sexual violence prevention programming.
“Something like a student-athlete committee would be beneficial because it would make the training more relatable with less emphasis on adults, which seems only to make everyone a bit uncomfortable” stated Gabe Nass ’20, captain of the men’s golf team. Nass added that he is hopeful the committee will help improve student-athletes’ ability to prevent sexual violence on campus.
SVPAAC is currently comprised of four club sport student-athletes and seven varsity-level student-athletes. Jaynes noted that there is also a waiting list of student-athletes “who heard about this committee and expressed interest in being added at some point.”
“While NCAA policy does not directly require the same educational training for club sport athletes,” Jaynes explained, “we recognize the vital role that club sport athletes play on our campus and the importance of including their voices in this discussion as well.”
Athletic Director Gerald Young and Sport Club Director Aaron Chaput, in addition to Peterson and Jaynes, are responsible for overseeing the committee.
SVPAAC met for the first time on January 15 and is intending to meet once more this term, after which it will commence once a trimester.