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UCS organizes harm prevention trainings

Category III student groups required to attend trainings under Campus of Consent bill

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, February 4, 2019

After passing the Campus of Consent Bill two years ago and making several revisions since, the Undergraduate Council of Students offered pilot trainings this fall that address harm prevention for representatives of Category III student groups.

Under the most recent version of the bill, all Category III student groups must send one representative to two trainings per year who then becomes that group’s UCS liaison, The Herald previously reported. Category III student groups are groups that can receive funding over $200 from the Undergraduate Finance Board.

Representatives from 61 student groups attended the fall trainings, led by the Sexual Assault Peer Education program, the Masculinity Peer Education program and Project LETS, and over 180 groups have yet to attend a training. UCS offered three pilot trainings in the fall, and hopes to offer six additional trainings this semester, according to UCS Chair of Student Activities Alex Song ’20.

Groups that fail to send a liaison to two trainings by November, a year from the bill’s most recent amendment, will receive a warning from the UCS Student Activities Committee and enter a one-year warning period. After another year, the group’s Category III status will be revoked and they will be forced to reapply, according to UCS Vice President Camila Pelsinger ’20.

“The goal was to have a person in each student group that people could go to when problems arose around any of these issues of consent, or mental health issues,” Pelsinger said. That person “could be someone that could point people to resources if issues came up in a student group,” she added.

The overall aim of the trainings is to introduce student representatives to the resources that are available on campus, including those from BWell Health, she added, “but also to start conversations around supporting each other in terms of mental health issues, around creating a culture of consent and just starting dialogue about a lot of issues that groups have told us are important to them and have come up.”

When UCS first passed the bill in January 2017, SAPE was the only designated campus partner, and all Category III student groups were required to have one member of their executive boards trained by SAPE by spring 2018. These trainings were never offered because SAPE was not equipped to accommodate all Category III student groups, The Herald previously reported. In the two years since, MPEs and Project LETS have been added as partners.

UCS compensated Project LETS student facilitators with funding from the Undergraduate Finance Board for last semester’s pilot trainings, and BWell compensated those from SAPE and MPE, Pelsinger said.

“One of the main principles of a lot of these (partner groups) is that their trainings are attended consensually,” which would only be possible if student groups were offered a number of options, Pelsinger said.

Project LETS aimed to “address this main point of interpersonal harm that manifests because of lack of mental health education” in their pilot training said Yema Yang ’19, Project LETS chapter co-coordinator.  “A lot of these pieces have been in prior Project LETS workshops, but it was strung together and connected in a specific, streamlined way for a general audience who has no background in mental health to understand.”

In building content for their Campus of Consent workshop, Peer Mental Health Advocates at Project LETS compiled “the essential or the foundational aspects of the trainings,” PMHA Coordinator Judith Lao ’19 said.

“We wanted to make a training that was universal and directly applicable for folks,” she added.

Beyond raising awareness about resources available on campus through the Campus of Consent trainings, the Project LETS workshop aimed to bring this understanding of mental health issues back to student groups. “If student groups just knew more about how to handle mental health crises or more generally just how to support folks, if more people had that knowledge, not only would less trauma happen, but … more mentally ill people would feel safe in different communities,” Yang said.

SAPE also offered a two-hour pilot workshop last semester that was facilitated by students and based on SAPE’s curriculum, wrote Alana Sacks, the staff advisor for SAPE, in an email to The Herald.

When SAPE educators hold trainings, they aim to work with participants “to identify and disrupt behaviors that normalize sexual and relational violence and to foster conversations that will reduce trauma for everyone,” among other objectives, according to language provided by Sacks.

MPE’s pilot workshop was based on an introductory module on how individuals learn gender and are socialized, said Herald Staff Columnist Quentin Thomas ’21, an MPE co-coordinator. “Student groups represent more than just individuals,” Thomas added. “If you’re a student group, you’re representing a bunch of people, and what you represent should be something positive and … celebratory of diversity, and … education in masculinity is an important part of that.”

Once a student group representative has attended two trainings, additional responsibilities as a UCS liaison are up to the discretion of their group, Pelsinger said.

“We’re hoping (that) the things that we included in our presentation are things that they bring back to their communities and talk about,” Lao said.

After attending the SAPE training last semester, UCS liaison for the Jabberwocks Sam Grady ’19 plans to “recreate our living list,” a set of terms they first developed after participating in an MPE training unrelated to the Campus of Consent Bill.

Grady said they have rethought their role as a group morale officer in the Jabberwocks this year “to be more about rethinking tradition, confronting and interrogating our own culture of toxicity (and) thinking through the ways that traditions have been harmful and violent, and I think going to this training was just one way for me to be more educated and equipped to bring those lessons to the Jabberwocks.”

Grady noted their appreciation of the bookmarks and handouts SAPE distributed at the workshop, which Grady gave to members of the Jabberwocks after attending the workshop.

After attending an MPE workshop as an entire student group in the past, Grady said they wished “that more people had access to (the Campus of Consent trainings) than one representative. … I felt like the workshop (the Jabberwocks) did with (the) Masculinity Peer Education program just with our group and the facilitators was really effective.”

Talking more about restorative justice and community accountability would also improve the workshop, Grady added.

Senior Class Coordinating Board Co-President Doug Shea ’19 went to the pilot MPE workshop last semester. On every agenda he writes for CCB meetings, “we have a workshop debrief sort of thing, so if someone goes to a workshop, there will always be space in our meetings to talk about that and facilitate that discussion,” he said.

In terms of the Campus of Consent Bill in general, Shea mentioned the notion of privilege as a driving factor in the importance of such trainings.

“Privilege is a very tough concept, and if you don’t have the background and if you aren’t raised in a sort of culture that’s very aware of political correctness … it’s very difficult to grasp,” Shea said. The Campus of Consent Bill trainings are a “great resource for people to learn more about this stuff,” he added.

In the future, UCS plans to work with more peer education groups, depending on “what develops in the future, where there’s need, where conflict is arising in different student groups” and what issues people want to address, Pelsinger said.

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