Preventing Sexual Assault on Campus and Creating a Positive CultureThe “St. Mary’s Way”
Preventing sexual assault on college campuses is a significant and crucial task. Ongoing headlines feature universities that aren’t doing enough to support their students, and this is all while new Title IX regulations have shifted away from a prevention focus. But with the right tools and determination, colleges and universities are capable of positively and effectively impacting their campus’ culture.
And that’s exactly what St. Mary’s College of Maryland has to offer. A public liberal arts institution in Maryland with about 1500 students, the “St. Mary’s Way” provides students the opportunity to think critically in and out of the classroom.
We had the chance to sit down with Helen Ann Lawless, the Title IX Investigator and Prevention Specialist, to learn more about the impact the College’s Title IX Team has had while managing initiatives towards preventing sexual violence around campus.
Prevention First Approach with EVERFI
“‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ — that’s so powerful especially when we’re talking about sexual violence and being able to prevent these things before they happen. We are creating social norms where that’s unacceptable on our campus and in a larger environment.” – Helen Ann Lawless
Helen Ann joined St. Mary’s College with a background in public health and social work. She has continued her efforts and commitment towards sexual assault prevention over her nearly two-year term.
St. Mary’s College chose EVERFI to train their students on how to prevent sexual assault. They deliver ongoing training courses to their students to reinforce their commitment to prevention. Through EVERFI training, St. Mary’s College has seen an increase in their students’ ability to identify and understand harassment signaling the importance of championing prevention on campus.
“This course gives our students an introduction and a foundation on consent, healthy relationships, and bystander intervention. This allows us to do a deeper dive into these topics knowing everyone is on the same page, speaking the same language.”
Driven by Data: Discovering Social Norms
EVERFI’s training platform enables practitioners, like Helen Ann, to break down the level of understanding that users have after completing courses. In their EVERFI Impact Report, St. Mary’s College could better understand the social norms of their student population. And through the Data Insights on EVERFI’s Foundry dashboard, Helen Ann compared a student’s behavior to that same student’s perceived behavior of their peers.
The results were illuminating — not just for Helen Ann and her team, but for the student learners.
“I’m a big data nerd and I love all of the access I have on the backend to survey responses and data.” – Helen Ann Lawless
The Data Insights from EVERFI’s training illustrated that students at St. Mary’s College do feel confident to step in as active bystanders. However, the student population wasn’t quite as confident that their peers would do the same.
This discovery from EVERFI training has only reinforced the value of SMCM’s additional programming on campus. Their programming helps to raise awareness of their ongoing prevention efforts and educates students of the social norms revealed by the EVERFI Data Insights.
Here are some of the ways that Helen Ann shares their Data Insights to reinforce the norm:
1. Title IX Instagram
Help amplify your prevention efforts by meeting your students where they are: Instagram.
2. Distribute Fliers on Campus
Share your prevention efforts and elevate social norms campaigns by encouraging your students to post fliers in high-traffic areas on campus.
3. Facilitate an Annual Climate Survey
Understand how your students feel about campus life by benchmarking your strengths and weaknesses.
Prevention Strategies Create Lasting Impact
To make a lasting impact on your campus, you need to look beyond the percentage of completions and basic compliance training checkbox towards a more holistic approach. Completion rates on courses and standard training are beneficial, as they provide a good indicator that the prevention knowledge is being shared. Doubling your focus on a prevention landscape will expand your student engagement and help increase retention by limiting sexual assault on your campus.
Higher Education is at a turning point where it’s critical to look beyond compliance and align quality training education with prevention programming.
St. Mary’s College has met the moment. To recognize their exemplary approach to prevention, EVERFI has awarded St. Mary’s College with the 2020 CPN Seal of Prevention for their essential prevention work and outstanding investment toward their digital prevention programming.