Communications Department Surveys Colgate Sexual Climate

Holly Mascolo

 

Colgate’s communications department is working in collaboration with the Sexual Climate Advisory Committee (SCAC) to create a series of articles that addresses topics related to Colgate’s sexual climate in order to raise awareness of sexual assault, which is a pervasive issue on college campuses. The articles will be published as a web series on colgate.edu and will also be available on Facebook.

Barbara Brooks, Director of Public Relations and Marketing in Colgate’s Office of Communications, is helping start up this article series and raise awareness of sexual assault on campus. She is also a part of the SCAC, which is working to bring this plan to fruition. The SCAC was formed last year and is led by Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Scott Brown.

“The SCAC’s goal is to serve as an umbrella organization for the many climate-related groups, and to raise awareness and get people excited about the role they can play in making things

better,” Brooks said.

Brooks said, along with two students who interned in her office over the summer, the SCAC has created this series as a way of communicating information about the sexual climate to Colgate students.

“As [the SCAC was] a new group, much of their work took place behind the scenes,” Brooks said. “By last spring, they were ready to ‘go public’ in fall 2014 with communications that reach the

entire community.”

Brooks believes that this will benefit not only students but all members of the Colgate community in creating a safe place to talk about sexual assault.

“By elevating the public dialogue, and having the messages come from all sources—administration, students, faculty and staff – SCAC believes more people will realize their stake and their opportunity to be part of the change,” Brooks said. “SCAC wants more people to go through bystander training. And we hope other groups on campus will address the issue from their different points of view.”

Vice President and Dean of the College Suzy Nelson sent out an email at the beginning of the academic year citing facts about issues of sexual assault on college campuses.

In this letter, she discussed sexual assault as an issue that is of pressing concern at Colgate and discussed how the school is trying to equip the student body with the best possible resources to combat this issue. Dean Nelson mentioned how updates have been made to the Equity Grievance Policy (EGP).

“We hope that more students will step forward and report incidents of sexual violence, and our Equity Grievance Process is designed to be supportive, timely and fair in resolving these reports,” Nelson said.

Both Nelson and Brooks also mentioned other initiatives, such as Yes Means Yes and Bystander Intervention, that will be available to students to develop stronger communication about sexual assault on campus. The article series will give students participating in these programs a chance to discuss their experiences and share them with other students.

“The more students – really all members of our community – are aware of ways to prevent sexual harassment and violence, the more success we will have in

doing so,” Nelson said.