Rowan among “Top 25 Affirmative Consent Schools”

Rowan among “Top 25 Affirmative Consent Schools”

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Rowan University, which for years has taken a wide-ranging approach to preventing and addressing sexual violence, was this week named one of the “Top 25 Affirmative Consent Schools.”

Dr. David Rubenstein, Rowan’s Vice President for Health & Wellness, said the accolade, from the web site ValueColleges.Com, reflects the University’s broad mission to be a “trauma informed” community in which all students feel safe, welcome and supported.

He said Rowan’s approach to preventing sexual violence involves administrative, faculty and student activity including participants from such areas as the President’s Office, the Wellness Center, Public Safety, Athletics, Greek Affairs, Residential Learning, Student Government, the Office of Equity & Diversity (which helps ensure federal Title IX compliance) and the Office of Social Justice, Inclusion & Conflict Resolution (SJICR).

For nearly a decade, Rubenstein said, Rowan’s Sexual Violence Prevention Committee has met monthly to study the issue and to develop policies, standards and educational outreach.

In addition, the Wellness Center’s Green Dot program, which is based on a national model, encourages students to intervene when a friend might be in danger of an unwanted sexual encounter.

“To be effective, our approach must be multi-dimensional,” Rubenstein said.

He said Rowan students first learn that any form of sexual aggression will not be tolerated during Orientation, that the message is delivered again during a first-year “Rowan 101” course and that it’s repeated continually across campus, in particular by dozens of faculty and staff who receive annual Title IX training.

“All of these actions, which are aimed at sexual violence prevention, speak to our mission of being a trauma informed community,” he said.

Citing federal statistics, the Value Colleges site reports that 11 percent of all students experience rape or sexual assault and that, among undergraduates, it will affect 23 percent of females and 5.4 percent of males.

Dr. Amy Hoch, associate director of counseling & psychological services, said while those figures are disturbing, a more disturbing one is that an estimated 95 percent of all campus sexual assaults go unreported.

Still, she said, while the issue of sexual violence is one that may not soon be eradicated, Rowan’s multi-layered approach is working toward that goal by informing, educating and enforcing models of acceptable sexual behavior.

“Rowan holds two broader sexual violence prevention programs every year and both are used to help inform students that discrimination based on sex in any form is not acceptable,” Hoch said.

She said the University also reserves one of its annual “ProfTalks” programs to address the issue of sexual violence and that Rowan offers numerous safety programs for straight women and men and for the LGBTQA+ community through the SJICR.

“It is important to keep this issue at the forefront of the public’s mind,” she said. “As much as anything else, it is a public health issue.”