By Joshua Mabry, COM 250 Reporter
Edited by Jake Williamson, COM 303 Editor
ROME, Ga. – In light of the recent “Me Too” movement, Berry has responded by asking faculty, staff and first-year students to complete a sexual assault training that is designed for undergraduate students.
As of this academic year all faculty, staff and first-year students, including transfer students, have to complete this training that is administered through a company called EverFi.
The program comes in multiple stages before completion, according to Lindsey Taylor, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. The first part of the program was completed by all first-year Berry students before classes started for the fall 2018 semester.
The second part of the program had to be completed 45 days after the first part.
Taylor said that Berry adopted this program after Lindsay Norman, associate dean of students, investigated the program last spring and discovered that it could be customized to Berry’s needs.
The college then had all athletes, coaches, orientation (SOAR) leaders, resident assistants and BCC 100 instructors and mentors complete the program to provide feedback before it was launched to all first-year students, according to Taylor.
“We decided that it was important for our students to go through it, so we started with this entering class,” Taylor said.
Transfer students also have to complete the training, even if they completed it at their previous college, according to Taylor. She said that transfer students need to know the resources and policies on sexual misconduct at Berry because they may not be the same as other universities.
Completing the sexual assault training fulfills federal requirements for the college, but this is not the main reason that the college has implemented the program. Taylor said that completing the training helps to preserve the community that Berry has — it only benefits students.
“I think when our students are educated and aware, they can start to make responsible choices and decisions,” Taylor said.
First-year student Zoe Robinson said that the training Berry implemented is informative and that the training is beneficial, especially for students who might not have completed proper sex education training in high school.
“With this kind of training, it’s giving the next generation the tools it needs to have a better society,” Robinson said.
Program completion is required for all athletes
Student athletes are required to complete the sexual misconduct training per a mandate from the NCAA, according to Taylor.
Ginger Swann, assistant director of athletics for sports medicine, said that the athletes have to complete a sexual assault training every year.
Swann said the training is beneficial for athletes because it is possible that they might know someone who deals with a sexual assault.
“This type of training can help prepare them if they have to deal with it personally or if they are supporting a friend,” Swann said. “It also helps with prevention by providing real strategies that equip them.”
Mary Grace Gaskin, a senior on the women’s lacrosse team, said that the program is beneficial for athletes because they are often seen as representing their college’s name. People believe that their actions reflect the college they represent.
The way that Berry approaches conversations relating to sexual assault can be improved, according to Gaskin.
“I would like to see Berry approach it in a more holistic way that engages the entire community and is not casting blame on either side,” Gaskin said.
Swann hopes after completing this program not only athletes, but all students, will see a culture at Berry that is grounded in the college’s values of love and care.
“I hope we will spread this light of love outside of Berry’s gates,” Swann said.
Training goes beyond the student body
Faculty and staff are also required to complete the training. Taylor said that they need to be prepared to serve students in a moment of vulnerability or fear.
“When you think, as a student, who some of your most trusted people on this campus are, my guess is that the two people you’re going to think of is your faculty and your student work supervisor,” Taylor said.
Paula Englis, professor of management, echoed Taylor’s remarks saying that completing the program is beneficial because it helps faculty and staff assist students in need.
Englis said that completing the program helped her better understand Berry’s policies and procedures on sexual misconduct.
“They’re trying to raise awareness to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen at Berry, and if it does happen we can step in, stop it and help people,” Englis said.