A (Brief) Primer on Effective Planning for Student Wellness

We talk a lot about the virtues of good planning here at EverFi. Indeed, it is a hallmark of doing effective work—of any kind. This month, you’re likely writing up your end-of-year reports and starting to consider the year ahead. It seems timely for a reminder of the importance of planning and the availability of tools and resources to support this important aspect of your efforts. The first part of any good planning process will be a situational assessment. What are the needs and strengths of your students, and how can they be better supported? These answers may come from your most recent NCHA II or Core survey data, or perhaps AlcoholEdu and/or Haven. You might also look to service utilization reports in order to determine where and how students are accessing your services, and how and whether you are meeting their needs. This phase of planning should also consider what resources and assets are available in order to establish goals that are realistic.

This formative analysis should also consider the broader campus environment and your surrounding community. What are the threats or challenges posed to students making safe and healthy choices? How might you influence the environment so that healthy and safe choices are easier? The research base must inform this part of the thought process. If there is no research base, then the thought process should be informed, at the very least, by behavioral change theory. Environmental changes may include reducing low-priced drink specials in your community, providing more alcohol-free opportunities on campus, expanding access to recreational facilities, or promoting healthy norms regarding sexual activity, consent, or bystander intervention.

Goal setting is best supported using a logic model, where you can map out the impact of your proposed activities into short-term outputs, medium-term outcomes, and eventually long-term impact. A logic model will force you to check assumptions and can help identify gaps in your thinking or efforts that might lead to failure. It also helps identify evaluation measures, which, once collected, will enable you to determine where you were successful, and where along the process things may have fallen short. As you set about articulating objectives in order to reach your goals, a useful tool to follow is the SMART method, which supports creating reasonable, concrete goals and objectives that are amenable to evaluation and improvement. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely or Time-bound. There are several web-based SMART goal-planning tools and guides you might call upon; here and here are just two examples.

Once you have identified what must be done to reach your mission or overarching goal, you can begin to lay out an action plan of what will be done, when, and by whom. It will also help clarify the partners you will likely need to engage, and resources you will need to call upon in order to effect the change you are seeking. While this is an oversimplification of the planning process, thinking through these steps will greatly enhance the success of your campus health and safety efforts. One fantastic compendium of resources to call upon for planning and building healthy communities is the Community Tool Box. This resource contains a host of toolkits, information, and guidance to drive social change in support of healthy communities. The Healthy Campus 2020 MAP-IT model may also prove useful as you engage in this process. Congrats on wrapping up another academic year, and best of luck as you engage this process in planning for the year to come!

Spotlight on EverFi’s Higher Ed Partner Services Team

In the middle of the 300 block of Congress Street in Boston’s Seaport district 9 people are working around the clock to ensure that college freshmen have a seamless experience when they take an EverFi course. Whether it’s our sexual assault prevention course, Haven, AlcoholEdu for College, or Transit – Financial Wellness this is the group that powers the implementation process and supports campus practitioners at over 500 colleges and universities as they get our programs off the ground.

Meet one of the hardest working teams at EverFi — Higher Ed Partner Services. From May through October they are pure HUSTLE logging calls with hundreds of partners handling everything from on-boarding, student support, preparing data and providing resources and best practices for the implementation of our higher education health and wellness solutions. They do all this so that nearly 1 million college students can take our courses this fall and lead healthier, more successful lives.

We are incredibly lucky to have such a dedicated, passionate and talented group of individuals managing such an important component and making EverFi what it is – a tech company with a mission to help students be safer, healthier and to prepare them for success in life.

Huge shout out from the DC office to the crew in Boston. Thank you for all that you do!

The team that keeps our higher ed business buzzing during implementation season. (Not pictured: Linda Gernes, Lexie Yang, Annie Flores)

The team that keeps our higher education business buzzing during implementation season.
(Not pictured: Linda Gernes, Lexie Yang, Annie Flores)

Campus Climate Surveys: A finger on the pulse and the purse strings of higher education

biden not alone

July’s release of findings from Senator Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) survey of over four
hundred institutions of higher education highlighted a range of shortcomings in efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault on our nation’s campuses. While most would agree that the heightened federal focus on addressing campus sexual assault is a good thing, very few institutions have an accurate sense of the magnitude of sexual assault on their campus.

According to McCaskill’s survey results, only 16% of campus respondents conduct confidential student surveys to assess the prevalence of sexual violence, attitudes related to this issue, and how it is being addressed at their school. These “climate surveys” were a key recommendation in April’s release of the “Not Alone” report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The Campus Safety and Accountability Act, a bipartisan bill introduced on July 30, would make climate surveys an annual requirement.

McCaskill 2

This momentum has led to public statements decrying climate surveys as yet another unfunded mandate for campuses. Indeed, those likely to be responsible for enacting such a mandate on campuses are already facing increased pressure on their (often inadequate) resources to comply with more stringent standards around reporting offenses, responding to incidences, and prevention education. While funding and staffing are valid concerns, there may be additional, and often unspoken, resistance among many higher education leaders around facing the fact that they, too, may have a sexual assault problem.

The reluctance of campus authorities to recognize and outwardly take on sexual assault at their school is not new. Most notably, the cover up of the rape and murder of a Lehigh University student in 1986 prompted the passage of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, or Clery Act, a landmark legislation that clearly outlines and enforces campuses’ crime reporting responsibilities (and now contains the mandates of what is commonly referred to as Campus SaVE). More recently, a 2014 survey by Gallup and Inside Higher Education found that ~70% of college presidents generally feel campuses need to do more to respond to sexual assault. The vast majority of these same presidents (roughly 95%), when asked about their own institution’s efforts, felt their campus was doing enough.

Clearly there is incentive in not being branded as a school with “a sexual assault problem.”  However, the problem of sexual assault is not unique to schools bearing the scarlet letter of a Title IX investigation. The public release of the list of 55 schools (now over 60) currently under investigation by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, while certainly elevating the dialogue around this issue, may also have the unintended consequence of marginalizing the problem and propagating the misperception that sexual assault is a case of a few bad apples.

Beyond the tragic personal narratives of victimization (and often revictimization upon reporting) prolific in local and national media, the high rates of sexual assault among college students have been demonstrated empirically since the 1980s. However, administrators and practitioners often do not have a solid handle on their campus-specific incidence of sexual assault, or trend data relating to this challenge. Relying on Clery report data is insufficient and misleading, as reports can fluctuate with the extent to which authorities abide by reporting guidelines, or the degree to which students feel comfortable coming forward to campus authorities about their assault in any given year. In the absence of campus data that come anywhere close to commonly cited statistics, the door is open for some campus leaders to keep their fingers pointing outward and their heads buried in the sand.

This brings us back to climate surveys. If mandated broadly, climate surveys can reduce barriers to transparency by leveling the playing field across institutions – it would likely be found that sexual assault is shockingly prevalent on most, if not all, campuses. This would allow campuses to distinguish themselves not just by avoiding “the list” but by the efforts they make to proactively take a stand against sexual assault.

white house task force

Insights gleaned by a deeper understanding of students’ and employees’ attitudes, behaviors, and experiences (both the good and the bad) could be leveraged to garner additional resources. Further, these campus-specific insights could inform a more accurately targeted—and thus more cost-effective—allocation of resources. At the end of the day, campuses would be delivering more appropriate and impactful programs and services to their students and employees. Not to mention the universal benefits that could be realized by a more data-driven community of practice.

If campus safety and student wellness are truly viewed as key priorities, the merits of climate surveys will likely far outweigh the costs. While there may be fiscal and logistical challenges, the conversation should remain focused on appropriations rather than appropriateness.

To learn more about EverFi’s new climate survey tool, please contact speck@everfi.com.

Reference URLs:
1. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/07/10/mccaskill-says-her-survey-shows-colleges-falling-short-dealing-sex-assaults#sthash.28eMrOOl.Bd7EXAOG.dpbs
2. http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/SurveyReportwithAppendix.pdf
3. https://www.notalone.gov/assets/report.pdf
4. http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/files/2014/07/Campus-Safety-and-Accountability-Act4.pdf
5. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/29/campus-climate-surveys-sexual-assault_n_5235457.html
6.  http://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/files/2014%20Presidents%20Survey%20webinar%20[Read-Only].pdf
7.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/30/activists-rape-problem-ultraviolet-harvard-dartmouth_n_5242076.html
8. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/05/01/department-of-education-office-for-civil-rights-title-ix-sexual-assaults/8567941/

Why AlcoholEdu for College™ is the Largest Online Course in Higher Education

Much to the dismay of students, parents, educators, administrators and college presidents, the culture of drinking on campus at many colleges and universities still prevails.  While headlines are dominated by stories of negative consequences associated with drinking, schools are struggling to implement scalable alcohol and and other drug prevention education across their campuses.  That’s where EverFi comes in.

This fall, over half a million college students will take EverFi’s flagship higher education course, AlcoholEdu for College™.  That number represents nearly 1/3 of all first-year students at America’s four-year higher education institutions and it continues to grow every year.  There’s a reason AlcoholEdu has grown into the largest online course in higher education, (with over 4 million student completions to date), and it’s because of one thing: assumptions — we don’t make them.  We don’t assume that every college student drinks and we don’t assume that every student has the same attitudes and behaviors towards drinking.

In fact, we know that at least 1/3 of the student population at most campuses don’t consume alcohol. So, we ensure that ALL students have a chance to benefit from our course and absorb information tailored specifically to their own experience.  We do this by providing multiple pathways for students to move through our course.  Whether they are abstainers, moderate drinkers, or heavy drinkers, each student receives relevant content, personalized feedback and practical strategies that are appropriate for their needs.  And, regardless of their path, every student receives a base level education on alcohol, since even an abstainer may try alcohol at some point.  There are a number of courses in the market today that start with the assumption that every student drinks alcohol and is sexually active, AlcoholEdu is not one of those courses.

This summer we’re unveiling the latest release of the course, complete with a newly designed user experience, interactive activities, engaging modules and informative data to help define ongoing campus programming.  Check out an overview video to see why over 550 campuses are using AlcoholEdu for College.

AlcoholEdu for College Overview Video from EverFi on Vimeo.

EverFi Recognizes National Teacher Day

Today is National Teacher Day and we want to extend tremendous thanks to all the educators who are inspiring today’s youth and preparing America’s next generation of citizens.  We’ve had the pleasure of working with thousands of teachers in all 50 states who are helping students build the skills they need to be successful in life.

We’re inspired by your drive, passion, commitment and creativity.

We’re also thankful for the more the 60 former educators who are now part of EverFi’s national team.  We can’t think of a better group to join our mission than those who have formatively impacted the lives of others through education.

So please join us in thanking teachers today, and everyday, for the incredible commitment they make and for the lasting impact they’re driving.

 

 

EverFi Attends White House Event: Protecting Students from Sexual Assault

The higher education airways are abuzz with activity resulting from this week’s release of recommendations from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (WHTF). The Task Force, commissioned in January by President Obama, has connected with thousands of key stakeholders to gather insights on the challenges and opportunities facing campuses in an effort to provide practical instructions for colleges to identify, prevent, and respond to sexual assault.

WH

Vice President Joe Biden with survivor, Madeline Smith, a student at Harvard University, who shared her story at the White House Event on April 29th, 2014

Over the past few months, EverFi, along with Campus SaVE Act rule-makers and proponents, has engaged with the Task Force to help provide a framework of best practices and sexual assault prevention standards.  We were honored to join Vice President Biden, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Lynn Rosenthal, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, at the White House yesterday to champion their efforts.

During his impassioned plea for men to get more involved in the fight against sexual assault, the Vice President shared the “1 is 2 Many” public service announcement.  The spot features Hollywood actors Benicio del Toro, Daniel Craig, Steve Carell, Seth Myers and Dulé Hill joining President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden to encourage men to be an active part of ending sexual assault. 

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 2.13.06 PM

Male celebs help White House stop sexual assault

Key Resources:

In our effort to support campuses, we’ve pulled together many of the key documents and materials that have been released in the past month as the result of the White House Task Force and VAWA rule-making:

  • 1 is 2 Many PSA – White House public service announcement urging men to get involved in the fight against sexual assault

 

  • Not Alone – The first report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault

 

  • NotAlone.gov – a new web resource launched in connection with the White House Task Force

 

 

 

  • Bystander Intervention Fact Sheet – a review of the core components, delivery methods, and challenges of this important aspect of prevention (including reference to EverFi’s Haven program

 

 

 

 

 

  • Sample Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for partnerships with local rape crisis centers – these vital community-based organizations can provide critical assistance and support for victim services and prevention

 

 

 

  • Title IX FAQs – questions and answers on Title IX and sexual violence, released by the Department of Education to provide additional guidance to schools concerning their obligations under this legislation

 

A Personalized Approach to Alcohol & Other Drug Education

Are your children prepared for college?

Alcohol. Drugs. Sex. Social Pressure. Not everyone drinks, uses drugs, or succumbs to social pressures when they are in college. But some kids do.  Do you want your children to be prepared to deal with these issues? To have the knowledge to make the right decisions when they are faced with situations in which alcohol is all around them and they are being pressured to participate or their “new” best friend is in a precarious situation and they don’t know how to help them? I would.

AEDU1_newAs a parent, I am thankful that EverFi has developed a product that helps prepare the millions of students who are starting their college career to make smart choices and decisions around alcohol.  Even more importantly, as a member of EverFi’s product team, I have the responsibility of ensuring that our course continues to provide college students with the right information to be successful during this important phase of their academic career.

Population level alcohol education has been our focus at EverFi for thirteen years and we’re incredibly proud to be partnered with 550 colleges and universities across the country.  During that time, AlcoholEdu for College™  has grown into the largest online course in higher education with over 4 million student completions – including 550,000 this academic year alone.

Consistently evolving AlcoholEdu to leverage prevention best practices and to meet the needs of campuses is a core part of our focus and that’s why we’re truly excited about the upcoming launch of a significantly enhanced AlcoholEdu.  A key focus has been enhancing the student experience and the interactions within the course.  We’ve designed the course  to addresses a wide spectrum of students and to provide personalized pathways based on attitudes and behaviors that will resonate with today’s college students.

What’s critical about our focus is that we don’t assume that every college student drinks.  In fact, we know that a significant portion of the student population doesn’t consume alcohol. To ensure that ALL students have a chance to benefit from our course and absorb information tailored specifically to their own experience, we provide multiple pathways for students to move through our course.  Whether they are abstainers, moderate drinkers or heavy drinkers, each student receives relevant content, personalized feedback and practical strategies that are appropriate for their needs.

There are a number of courses in the market today that start with the assumption that every student drinks alcohol and is sexually active.  This type of “one size fits all” messaging is dangerous as it could drive abstainers to either adopt riskier behaviors or to make them feel alienated.  This alienation impacts their college experience and may lead to increased transfers and/or dropouts.   In short, if you are sending a child who doesn’t drink to college, do you want the college to provide education that sends a message that they will not fit in unless they drink?

AlcoholEdu doesn’t talk down to students, use scare tactics or flippant language to get their attention.  We provide a straightforward, fact-based, mature experience that is respectful of the situations that we know students face and the decisions they will need to make.

Having the opportunity to improve a course that millions of students have completed has been a tremendous experience.   As we get closer to launch, we’ll share more updates on the completely new AlcoholEdu for College.  In the interim, ask the Dean of Students of your college or your children’s college if they’re using AlcoholEdu.

 

A Positive Path Forward in Sexual Assault Prevention

With the passage of the Campus SaVE Act in 2013, and the recent establishment of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, the issue of sexual assault is gaining much-deserved national attention. EverFi’s online sexual assault prevention course, Haven, addresses the critical issues of sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking, and reaches over 400,000 students a year. Our online solution sets students on a positive path forward and helps colleges and universities meet the federal mandates of the Campus SaVE Act.

Our Haven research has shown that most students have healthy behaviors and attitudes when it comes to sexual assault, and prevention education helps strengthen and reinforce those beliefs.  Throughout the Haven course, students are engaged and empowered to help build the communities they want to live in, and to help maintain a positive path forward for their campus.

EverFi-Infographic_Final

Haven – Understanding Sexual Assault™ Infographic

New Campus SaVE Act Resource

Today marks the one year anniversary of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  For the past 20 years, this critical legislation has helped to improve the safety and wellness of women by provisioning services and trainings, funding investigations and prosecutions, and appropriating grants for vital community-based programs.

In response to the groundswell of attention and activism around campus sexual assault, the 2013 VAWA reauthorization includes a set of Clery Act amendments commonly referred to as the Campus SaVE Act. Campus SaVE expands the scope of the Clery Act, creating new requirements in terms of crime reporting, response, and prevention education for rape, acquaintance rape, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

EverFi has recently launched a new resource on the Campus SaVE Act that shares information and best practices for higher education administrators and practitioners focused on campus sexual assault prevention.  The website offers Campus SaVE Act FAQ’s, information on the White House Task Force, webinars, insight reports, and solution overviews.  It also provides information on how many campuses are addressing federal compliance mandates like the Clery/Campus SaVE Act and Title IX through the implementation of Haven, EverFi’s sexual assault prevention course.

While the Campus SaVE Act goes into effect today, additional guidance will be offered by the Department of Education’s negotiated rulemaking committee throughout the year and campuses are required to show a good faith effort for compliance on their 2014 Annual Security Reports.

The Campus SaVE Act site aims to address all of your Campus SaVE-related questions and offers our support to higher education administrators as they refine sexual assault prevention programming on campus and work to reflect a good faith effort for compliance with these new Clery mandates.

We continue to be focused on continuing to spark change on campuses across the country to create healthier, safer communities.

A Parent’s Take on the Campus SaVE Act

Do you know what the Campus SaVE Act is?  Do you know what the acronym stands for?  I can honestly say that even as a parent I might not know were it not for my role at an education technology company. We provide online prevention courses around critical issues including sexual assault prevention.

nn_05bwi_assault_140122Last March, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act, which included the Campus SaVE Act – new legislation that holds schools accountable for their handling of sexual assault on campus.  I have good reason to be interested in the Campus SaVE Act, two reasons in fact: my 16 and 21-year-old daughters.

My wife and I have taught our girls about the risk of sexual assault, we have taught them how to reduce the risk, and how to defend themselves against potential perpetrators.  I have watched my 16-year-old exhibit a pleasantly surprising amount of fierceness and ability in a self-defense class, and yet I worry.

I worry that even with this education, no matter how well informed, prepared, or trained they may be, there are still other factors in play that are out of their control.  Chief among them is the college environment where the risk of sexual assault is the greatest.  Under the Campus SaVE Act, colleges and universities have an obligation to provide prevention education to all students with an explicit emphasis on primary prevention, which is geared towards stopping perpetration rather than just preventing victimization.

As parents, we should know how our child’s school plans to both prevent and act in the instance of sexual assault, because its the right thing to do, and because the Campus SaVE Act requires it.

Just a few weeks ago, the President established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.  It’s good to see the White House taking further action and driving urgency and support for higher education institutions to address the critical issues related to campus sexual assault.  And as parents, we should be taking further action, too, and that includes making sure that others are holding up their end of the prevention bargain long after we’ve dragged our children to self defense classes or lectured them about real-world risks.

If you want to know whether your child’s school is compliant with the Campus SaVE Act, ask them.  Look on the school website, call and find out.  Ask them what they are doing to educate their students.  Demand the level of accountability our children deserve.  After all, that is what the Campus SaVE Act requires.