Ohio State announces comprehensive plan to combat sexual misconduct and relationship violence
Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio State University announced today a comprehensive plan to combat sexual misconduct and relationship violence that combines new initiatives with programs developed over the last several years. The plan is newly organized under the name Buckeyes ACT.
“We are deeply concerned by sexual misconduct and relationship violence both at Ohio State and at institutions of higher learning across the nation,” said President Michael V. Drake. “Campuses must be safe places to learn and grow. Ohio State is actively working to prevent and respond effectively to these issues.”
Drake announced the launch of Buckeyes ACT during a campus rally Sept. 17 featuring a speech by Vice President Joe Biden, who visited Ohio State to observe the first anniversary of the “It's On Us” campaign. Biden and President Obama launched this public awareness and education campaign a year ago to empower campus communities to not only respond effectively to sexual assault, but also to prevent it in the first place.
Buckeyes ACT focuses on:
- Action – prevention efforts and bystander intervention
- Counseling – advocacy and support services
- Training – awareness and prevention education
Details of the comprehensive Buckeyes ACT plan include:
Existing initiatives at Ohio State include primary prevention programs such as Buckeyes Got Your Back, a bystander intervention initiative. Ohio State will hire an additional sexual violence prevention coordinator through the Office of Student Life’s Sexual Civility & Empowerment program and a dedicated team for investigating reports of student sexual misconduct and relationship violence on campus.
To help ensure Ohio State is a national leader on safety in this area, the university will again survey its student population in 2016 and 2017. This past spring, Ohio State was one of 27 universities across the nation to participate in the Association of American Universities’ campus climate survey. Results are expected soon and will help to inform and enhance Buckeyes ACT moving forward.
Additionally, a university-wide task force including students, staff and faculty will work to identify best practices and explore innovative approaches to preventing and responding to sexual misconduct and relationship violence.
“Our top priority is to ensure a safe and healthy climate for our students and the entire university community,” saidJoseph E. Steinmetz, executive vice president and provost, and task force chair. “We are dedicated to continuing to proactively and aggressively address this problem.”
Response programs include a partnership with the Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio, which provides confidential, 24-hour crisis response. In addition, Ohio State’s Office of Student Life offers confidential group and individual counseling through its Counseling and Consultation Service. The university will increase the number of advocates in the Office of Student Life to support students.
This fall, Ohio State also introduced its re-aligned Sexual Civility & Empowerment program, relocating all resources to one department within the Office of Student Life to offer enhanced support services for students.
Ohio State has strengthened its Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment, and Relationship Violence policy to ensure these issues are addressed comprehensively.
Ongoing awareness initiatives on campus, including the “Consent is Sexy” and “It’s On Us” campaigns, are designed to promote a culture of shared civility, respect and responsibility.
Next week, Ohio State is launching an online training for all students. The training course was created over the last year by Campus Clarity, a national industry expert, with input from students. An online training for faculty, staff and critical volunteers designed over the past year by industry expert LawRoom will be available as well.
Over the next year, Ohio State will make mandatory sexual misconduct and relationship violence training for students at first-year orientation sessions, through Ohio State’s First Year Experience Program and in the Second-Year Transformation Experience Program (STEP). The university is moving forward with additional academic course work for students focused on issues related to sexual misconduct and relationship violence.
Beyond campus, Ohio State remains active in a number of state, national and student-led initiatives, including a partnership with the Ohio Department of Higher Education to examine this issue across Ohio colleges and universities. Importantly, Buckeyes ACT also includes recommendations provided this spring by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Sexual Violence Task Force.
“Student government leaders in our administration will be actively involved in helping to make Buckeyes ACT a success,” said USG president Abby Grossman, a member of the university-wide task force.
“Working together, we can make a difference.”