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Why sexual assault prevention needs an LGBTQ focus and the help of men Why sexual assault
prevention needs an LGBTQ focus and the help of men
Author: Min, Brian
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[...]men are also more receptive to gender and sexuality issues when they hear about them from men.
According to the AAU survey, three in four LGBTQ students reported facing sexual assault on college
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Publication: The Columbia Spectator, Columbia University, New York NY.
Warning: This article deals with issues of sexual violence.
Last year, Carry That Weight radically altered sexual assault awareness nationwide. This semester, the outrage
against sexual assault grew stronger after the American Association of Universities and Columbia confirmed
that nearly one in four female undergraduates are survivors of sexual assault.
In response to allegations that Columbia was not serious about handling complaints involving gender-based
misconduct, the New Student Orientation Program expanded its sexual assault prevention program, Step UP!
&Get SAVI, from the original 50 minutes to two hours and 50 minutes, and included more student participation.
The added time allowed Step UP! &Get SAVI to increase the depth of its scenario-based instruction on consent
and sexual violence.
Although Columbia is heading in the right direction, adding two hours to an orientation program will not be
enough to prevent the staggering levels of sexual assault. Spectator's editorial board has urged us, as students,
to more actively intervene whenever we see individuals acting in a sexually violent or harassing manner. But
even if students become increasingly "better" bystanders, the question remains: What more can Columbia's
administration do?
To come up with effective policies, we must shift the focus away from what women must do to police
themselves to what men should do to erase rape culture. To properly combat sexual assault in this way,
Columbia should adopt something called "The Men's Program," a sexual assault prevention program created by
John Foubert at Oklahoma State University.
Presented by four male undergraduates to an all-male audience, The Men's Program shows a video of male-onmale rape with a heterosexual perpetrator, relates male-on-male rape to male-on-female rape, and teaches
men how to support rape survivors. The Men's Program also provides the basics of defining consent, as well as
strategies to confront peers who joke about abusing women. It concludes with a mental exercise, whereby the
program's participants are asked to imagine a scenario of a woman close to the participants being raped under
the influence of alcohol while a bystander does not intervene. The entire program lasts about an hour. Contrary
to the Step UP! program from last semester, The Men's Program would be required of all male students, instead
of permitting all students to choose between watching a video, attending a workshop, or considering sexual
assault via creative media.
[Related article: Changing masculinity behind closed doors]
A study of The Men's Program among fraternity members at an urban university located in the southeastern
U.S. concluded that participants were 40 percent less likely to engage in sexually coercive behavior after taking
part in The Men's Program. Also, those who did commit sexually coercive acts carried out considerably less

severe acts compared to those who did not participate in the program.
The Men's Program deviates from many sexual assault prevention programs, most of which are taught coeducationally by adult instructors. Breaking from the standard approach in this way makes male students more
receptive to sexual assault prevention for two reasons. For one, students are much more willing to open up to
undergraduates than adult coordinators. Secondly, men are also more receptive to gender and sexuality issues
when they hear about them from men. Though we must certainly challenge this patriarchal mindset in the future,
for now we can exploit conditioned patriarchal norms, such as this one, to advance sexual assault reform.
In addition, the program focuses on a critical component of curbing sexual assault that is lacking in modern
prevention programs: building empathy for survivors. Whereas Step UP! mainly emphasizes bystander
intervention, The Men's Program focuses on the struggles that survivors of sexual assault have faced and
highlights that men too can be survivors of sexual assault. Likewise, the imagined scenario of a loved one being
sexually assaulted forces the audience to confront and internalize the devastating effects of sexual assault on
the survivor and family members.
The Men's Program will also chip away at the existing victim-blaming culture on college campuses. By shifting
the responsibility of assault prevention to men, the program aims to reduce the shaming of survivors that we
see so much in media and legal cases. As the cultural norms of victim-blaming are stripped away, more women
could feel empowered to report sexual assault. Currently, around 80 percent of sexual assaults against college
women go unreported.
Beyond The Men's Program, Columbia must promote policies that reduce sexual assault among LGBTQ
students by ensuring that properly trained helpers remain available for LGBTQ survivors. According to the AAU
survey, three in four LGBTQ students reported facing sexual assault on college campuses.
Columbia fails to shed light on the harsher struggles of survivors with nontraditional gender identities in its
orientation programs and does not have the appropriate personnel or resources to aid LGBTQ survivors. As a
result, Columbia perpetuates the fear that the gender identities of LGBTQ individuals might not be taken
For example, in 2014, Columbia delayed the sexual assault case of a transgender student by more than six
months. The prefered gender pronouns of the survivor& Mdash;xe, xim, and xir& Mdash;also posed a problem
to investigators, as Columbia's officials did not intervene when the accused misused the survivor's gender
Columbia needs to raise awareness about LGBTQ students experiencing sexual assault& Mdash;and how their
experiences can differ from those of others& Mdash;to allow survivors to be more comfortable with reporting
sexual assault. Additionally, Columbia's Office of Gender-Based Misconduct needs to appoint properly trained
members who accept different gender identities. The office must clarify that violence in LGBT relationships is
not mutual or normal, and reassure survivors that they will not be "outed."
Establishing The Men's Program and focusing on LGBTQ sexual assault are not the be-all and end-all of
solving sexual assault. However, Columbia should pursue them as stepping stones to improving sexual assault
prevention programs. So what are you waiting for Columbia? React, respond, and reform, so that we can all feel
Brian Min is a Columbia College first-year planning to major in political science and women's and gender
studies. All I Do Is Min runs alternate Mondays.
To respond to this column, or to submit an op-ed, contact
Credit: Brian Min Sam Safari and Maegan Sue George Carolina Dalia Gonzalez Maegan Sue George
Subject: Sex crimes; Rape; College students; Assaults;
Publication title: University Wire

Publication year: 2015

Publication date: Oct 5, 2015
Year: 2015
Section: News
Publisher: Uloop, Inc.
Place of publication: Carlsbad
Country of publication: United States
Publication subject: General Interest Periodicals--United States
Source type: Newspapers
Language of publication: English
Document type: News
ProQuest document ID: 1721165569
Document URL:
Copyright: 2015 UWIRE, a division of Uloop
Last updated: 2015-10-11
Database: ProQuest Central,Social Science Premium Collection

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