Education is the key to helping prevent sexual assault, according to members of the University of Tennessee’s Title IX department, Center for Health Education and Wellness, and police department.
“Our primary approach is to teach active bystander courses to students, to teach them to safely intervene in situations that they think might precede into sexual assault,” said Fletcher Haverkamp, a sexual violence prevention coordinator at the Center for Health Education and Wellness.
“We also have throughout the year several different kinds of awareness campaigns that go on to help bring awareness to sexual assault victims in general.”
Some of those campaigns include the recent “Hike the Hill in Heels” and “April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month”.
“The Center for Health Education and Wellness also developed this idea of Vols-Help-Vols, which is creating a culture where students genuinely take care of one another,” he said.
This program encourages UT students to help their peers, focusing on creating a safe environment on campus.
Should any sexual misconduct occur, the university’s Title IX office can provide assistance to any students affected.
“We have a process that is laid out and hopefully clear for students to understand what they’re going through,” said Betsy Smith, director of the university’s Student Conduct and Community Standards office.
According to Emily Simerly, deputy chief of the support division of UTPD, the university’s police department also focus on educating students and keep good communication between themselves and other departments like Title IX.
“We also have an educational component heavily dealing with consent,” said Simerly.
The campus police department teaches students how to be more aware of their surroundings and offers self-defense classes to help students feel safer at the university.
“In a perfect world we would not offer that,” she said. “In a perfect world this wouldn’t be needed or necessary, but we do offer that for individuals who choose top come learn about self-defense and awareness.”
Simerly said the programs help teach the students about consent and how to possibly avoid a sexual misconduct situation.
“The most successful feedback we’ve had is just people being aware of their surroundings and the ability to feel like they could say no,” she said.
For more information on the Center for Health Education and Wellness and its programs, visit https://wellness.utk.edu/. Information on the UTPD’s self-defense classes can be found at https://utpolice.utk.edu/safety-info/personal-safety/self-defense/.