Sexual violence on college campuses is a community-wide problem ¬that demands community-based strategies. Cornell University is making progress in the battle against sexual violence by galvanizing the resources of students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community.
Cornell’s President David J. Skorton, Vice President for Student and Academic Services Susan Murphy, and Timothy Marchell, director of Mental Health Initiatives at Cornell’s Gannett Health Services, emphasize that an inclusive philosophy is the key to the university’s sexual assault prevention policies.
David Skorton says:
“Sexual violence has long been considered a ‘women’s issue,’ but it’s also a ‘men’s issue’ and concerns all of us, on and off campus.
“While Cornell is legally obligated to create an environment free of sexual violence for all members of our community, our goal is to go far beyond the requirements of state and federal law. To achieve this we must examine our culture and challenge attitudes and behaviors that foster sexual violence. While we continue this essential work, Cornell’s newly created Council on Sexual Violence Prevention works to ensure our policies and procedures continue to improve the campus environment.”
Susan Murphy says:
“The national conversation about sexual assault is expanding beyond the issue of personal safety to a larger, more philosophical discussion that challenges a culture where such violent behavior is tolerated or even accepted by some. There's a lot more discussion about a ‘rape culture.’ That's not a phrase I would have heard a couple of years ago.”
Timothy Marchell says:
“The problem of sexual violence is unfortunately pervasive on college campuses and Cornell is not immune. We take a public health approach to prevention that combines ongoing education initiatives, strong sanctions against perpetrators, and confidential health care, support and advocacy for survivors.
“We emphasize the role of men in the prevention of violence against women through a peer-led bystander education program called Wingman 101 that works primarily with fraternities and athletic teams. Male staff and faculty members are providing important leadership through a new group called Men Against Sexual Violence.
“During orientation, all first-year students are expected to attend a theater-based program that examines the dynamics of sexual violence and the role that bystanders can play in preventing assaults. In addition, more than 6,000 staff and faculty members have completed an online training called Respect@Cornell: Eliminating Harassment and Discrimination.
“The university’s sexual assault policy has been revised to encourage reporting and facilitate investigations.”
“We continually work to enhance the security of the campus environment through strategies such as an expanded late-night escort service and regular safety messages sent to the community by our Chief of Police.”
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