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Lowell House is hosting a series of discussions for students about sexual assault prevention throughout the rest of the month in response to the results of Harvard’s recent sexual assault climate survey.
While administrators have already hosted several town hall discussions since the results of the climate survey came out late last month, the Lowell House-specific meetings come with the expectation that all residents will attend, with meeting groups divided up by entryways.
In an email to Lowell undergraduates, House administrators pointed to data from the climate survey that showed few undergraduates knew about the University’s sexual assault policy and how it handles complaints. The survey results also indicated that many undergraduates did not know about the College’s peer counseling resources.
“One of the main things that I heard from students in the meetings after the AAU’s release was that they felt that [freshmen] get a whirlwind orientation to sexual assault and relationship health issues but then no one mentions it again for their four years,” Lowell House Dean Caitlin M. Casey wrote in an email. “That isn’t good enough.”
Peer counselors with the group Consent Advocates and Relationship Educators, or CARE, will lead the meetings, which a House-wide email—co-signed by Casey and House Masters Diana L. Eck and Dorothy A. Austin—described as “conversations.”
“No lectures, just a real discussion about how to create a campus that feels safe,” Lowell House administrators wrote in the email.
CARE falls under the purview of Harvard’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. According to Lindsey Baker, a spokesperson for Harvard University Health Services, professionals with OSAPR “assist with the content development and facilitation of all workshops to ensure consistency throughout.” She referred further questions to Lowell administrators.
House administrators strongly encouraged undergraduates to attend the discussions in the coming weeks, writing in their email to students, “if you can give 12 hours a week to a cappella and 40 to Netflix, you can give 50 minutes to having a conversation about preventing sexual assault in our home.” They also scheduled a Saturday make-up session for students who cannot attend their assigned entryway meeting.
Students across the College have asked for continued sexual assault education, said Emelyn A. dela Peña, the College’s assistant dean of student life for equity, diversity, and inclusion. College administrators are considering ways to bolster Title IX training, dela Peña said earlier this month.
“There’s a commitment from the College: Let’s put some teeth into this, let’s put some skin in the game,” she said.
Casey, for her part, wrote that Lowell is open to doing something similar next year if it works well and making changes if it does not.
Undergraduates are also organizing wider town hall discussions throughout October geared toward specific undergraduate identities, including gender and sexual orientation focused discussions.
—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.
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