Faculty & Staff
Faculty and Staff Allies
As a staff or faculty member, it may be difficult to see how you fit into the world of student organizing, but faculty and staff can be critical allies in any student movement, especially one that targets the current sexual assault policy for reform. We know that sexual violence impacts everyone on campus, and preventing it will consequently involve everyone in the community. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, approximately 3% of college women are raped each academic year. Of this percentage, many of the rapes are committed by acquaintances. College men are not excluded from acquaintance rape; about 10% of acquaintance rape victims are men. For more information on campus sexual assault, register to view the information in our Activist Resource Center.
To combat the issue of sexual assault on college campuses, SAFER focuses on supporting grassroots student movements to reform policy because of its lasting impact on the college community. An excellent orientation presentation for incoming freshman may occur a couple of years in a row, but without being written into policy it is dependent upon only a couple of organizers. A strong definition of consent in an easily accessible policy and a policy that mandates prevention education at freshman and transfer orientation sets a stronger, higher standard and more permanent commitment from the school. Check out our list of what makes a better sexual assault policy.
Sexual assault policy reform creates sustainable change on campus. This change can outlast student, faculty, staff, and administrator turnover when successful, establishing a culture free of sexual violence. Sexual assault policies indicate how seriously a school will address sexual assault, both in terms of primary prevention and education and how survivors will be treated as their case is handled by the school. SAFER believes that student input is crucial to the process of creating a policy that reflects current student needs. Students are the community members who will actually utilize the sexual assault policy; it is extremely important that administrators are not the only people writing and reforming it.
While SAFER works primarily with student activists, we see staff and faculty as valuable resources in student-led policy reform campaigns. When talking with student activists about their movements, SAFER has seen how staff and faculty members have an impact. In her attempts to reform Adelphi University’s sexual assault policy, Kristen Gabriel told SAFER that she worked with the head of peer counseling and a social work professor. Jaime Zottola told SAFER that she teamed up with the Vice President of Student Affairs and a women’s studies professor to reform SUNY New Paltz’s sexual assault policy. Both these student activists saw staff and faculty members as invaluable allies who played a role in their success.
Examples of how to be an effective ally to a student-led movement:
- Find out if your school is in the Campus Accountability Project Policies Database. If not, encourage a student or group of students to submit their policy research today! You can use this template letter to explain the project.
- Show up to student demonstrations and events! Ask if faculty and staff are welcome at student meetings. Do not dominate meetings.
- Provide institutional memory on past successful student movements on campus, specifically what tactics have been effective for activists in the past
- Provide advice on how to navigate the particular the bureaucracy of the school (for example, should students be targeting a letter writing campaign to President, Dean of Students or Chair of the Board?)
- Provide feedback on drafts of proposed policy changes and/or researching policies with similar demographics to that of the school and suggesting changes to current policy (using the SAFER Campus Sexual Assault Policy Database
- Encourage student leaders to submit policy analyses to the Campus Accountability Project
- If you are faculty, take time to connect sexual assault to your courses and campus culture. Incorporate language about enthusiastic consent, bystander intervention and how to support someone who has been sexually assaulted into your classroom or add readings on rape culture, sexual violence, and intersectionality to your syllabus. Need to brush up on basics? You can use the Activist Resource Center, too. See An Intro to Sexual Assault Activism.
- Serve as a point person for a student group to fight turnover, helping to recruit new student leaders
- Offer to submit the sexual assault policy as an agenda item at faculty and staff meetings. Invite student leaders to serve as spokespeople for the movement
- Organize other faculty and staff to take action with students
- Organize departmental funding to bring a SAFER training to your campus that is tailored to facilitate discussion between students, faculty, staff and administrators. For more information on our Teach-In workshop click here
As allies, SAFER is not asking college staff and faculty members to wage an attack against a school’s administration or reputation. Faculty and staff are not working against a school; they are working against the issue of sexual assault on college and university campuses. Creating lasting positive change requires an inter-generational commitment to the movement. Social justice starts as home, and sexual assault policy reform campaigns provide excellent opportunities for faculty and staff to make real progress in their communities.
Support Other Student Movements by Supporting SAFER
Finally, you can be an ally student-led movements for sexual assault policy campaigns across the country by supporting SAFER. SAFER is an all-volunteer run non-profit organization so your donations go directly to the programming we offer. For more information about how to support us, please see more information here. To make a direct monetary contribution, please click here.