Month: September 2018


Educational Program of the Month
We Believe Survivors

School: Cornell University Region: NEACURH
Person in charge: Liz Cantlebary Nominator: Sam Benson

Target Population: 96 Time Needed to Organize: 30 minutes
Number of People in Attendance: 30+ Date(s) of Program: Thursday, September 27th
Number of People Needed to Organize: 1 Cost of Program: $0
On-Campus Population: 6500 Chapter Size: 65

Origin of Program:

Ecology House CORE* RA Liz Cantlebary created this program after watching the testimony of Dr. Ford during Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination hearing. In listening to not only Dr. Ford's testimony but also the questions asked of her and the various "analyses" by the media, Liz chose to make a spontaneous, passive, and educational program where residents could both pledge to believe survivors as well as discuss how they can address the myths and culture that leads to sexual violence. Liz knew that there were many residents who were suffering in silence during this time, and she also knew that there were many residents who were feeling rather helpless because they didn't know how to help others or address problems they saw on campus. She wanted to do a program that not only visually displayed how the Eco community was one of solidarity behind survivors of sexual violence but also got residents talking about how they can take real action to change the present and future.

*CORE stands for COmmunity and REspect, a group of RAs from each residential community that have special training in providing sexual violence prevention education to residents

Word Count: 193

Please give a short description of the program:

The premise for this program was very simple but very powerful. Liz took two big pieces of butcher paper, and largely drew "I believe survivors of sexual assault" on one and "This is how I will address the culture +harmful myths about sexual assault" on the other.

On the first poster, residents were simply asked to sign their names as a pledge to always believe those who bravely shared their experiences with sexual violence. What started as simply people writing their names soon turned into names + small affirmations, with everything from "You are loved" to "Thank you for speaking up" to "You are so strong and so incredibly brave. I promise you that support is there." The poster had over 30 signatures, which was a big turnout for a community of our size, for a spontaneous program, and for a night that had several big prelims keeping students on campus.

On the second poster (the one about taking action), Liz divided it into three sections: "with my friends," "on campus," and "in society." This gigantic piece of paper was almost completely filled with actions residents promised to take to change the culture. Some examples include:-"stop excusing harmful behaviors"- "get people involved with Take Back the Night"-"reflecting on my own words and actions"-"addressing problematic masculinity when I see it"-"teach that consent is more than just saying no"-"sharing my story"

As a woman who is a two-time assault survivor by male perpetrators, it also made me incredibly happy to see that half the attendees were men. They didn't shy away from "just another program about sexual assault" as I've seen so many do before. They came in earnest, they listened, they participated, and I have full faith that they are truly taking action after this program. It is because of simple but powerful programs like this that this generation can truly make a difference not just on campus but also in greater society.

Liz also did a great job helping residents understand that while she is a resource they can always turn to, she does have a duty to consult if they disclose an incident of sexual assault to her. To that end, she also included a list of on- campus resources residents could go to for confidential support if needed.

Word Count: 379

Goals of the program:

The goals of this program were to engage residents in discussing sexual violence prevention and ensure that the many survivors in the community knew they had support living around them. The past couple weeks have been really difficult for survivors because of all the nearly constant media coverage and the various damaging comments that come with all that media coverage. Even for those who weren't able to come to the program, whether it was due to physical barriers because they were in prelims or emotional barriers because they were simply feeling incredibly exhausted, they were able to later see their fellow residents' support as we hung the posters in a common area and posted them on Instagram. This one Instagram post was the most liked post in the history of our account, showing that we had an impact even outside our hall community.

Word Count: 144

Positive and lasting effects of the program:

Like mentioned above, even Cornell students (and family members) outside Eco felt the support of our community as evidenced by the online post engagement. I think a number of students also got one step closer to being able to talk about their past traumas, and I think we'll have just as much engagement in our future CORE programs since we do at least one every month. I also fully believe that just the simple fact that an RA chose to hold this program, and the simple fact that people showed up, will stay in many residents' memories for many years to come and they try to help themselves or their friends who have experienced this kind of violence. This program also combined the power of words with the power of actions, and I think it will make the community stronger as individuals as well as as a group.

Word Count: 149

Short evaluation of the program:

I think the only thing that could have made this program better would have been the timing, but since it was a program built around the happenings in current society there was simply nothing to be done about the conflicts with prelims. The spontaneity of it also helped because it helped people have casual conversations instead of feeling nervous and anxious about having to have the perfect answers to guided conversations - everything was very authentic.

Word Count: 77

How could this program be adapted to other campuses?

I think one of the best things about this program is that it can truly be adapted to any campus. The timing is important given any current campus issues on the topic of sexual violence, but students could sign a pledge at any time and think critically about taking action at any time also. One of the key things to do would be to host it in a place that is easily accessible to get a good attendance, but also in a place that is not so visible that it would be triggering to those who are not ready to relive past traumas yet.

Word Count: 105

Date of entry into database: 2018-10-01 20:05:46

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