During the last week of August, ETSU Department of Public Safety sent out the first two safety notices of the year, and last week yet another was sent out to all students.
All notices were prompted by sexual assaults on female students on campus.
And these reports are just the first of many. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center at nsvrc.org, a study conducted in 2000 found that “for every 1,000 women attending a college or university, there are 35 incidents of rape each academic year.”
In recent years many universities, including ETSU, have started requiring certain groups to complete sexual misconduct training in hopes that education will help to reduce or stop the assaults in the campus community.
ETSU’s program is called Haven. It is an online course that is required for incoming students and other select groups on campus. Haven training can be completed on everfi.com, where the program description states that students will “learn about healthy relationships, the importance of consent and being a good communicator, and the many ways you can help create the safe, positive campus you want to be a part of.”
While this may be an important step to get the conversation on sexual assault started among students, a 2014 study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Violence Prevention found that many programs like ETSU’s Haven are not effective.
This CDC study systematically reviewed more than 100 strategies for sexual violence prevention.
Only three were found to be effective. One of the effective strategies was the funding of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, but the other two programs were targeted at children in 6th through 9th grade.
None of the programs evaluated in this study that were aimed at college students were found to be effective.
It seems that the take away from this research may be that if universities (and society in general) are to be safer, efforts need to be focused on children before they even begin considering colleges.
Or perhaps that an effective strategy for reaching college-age students exists but has not been found.
Either way, the need for some response to one of the greatest dangers on campus is clear to anyone who is tired of seeing safety notices in their email inbox.
All of them tell the same tale: there is sexual violence on this campus and it needs to end.