In response to demand for more educational resources related to the issue of sexual misconduct on campus, United Against Sexual Assault Yale is planning to release an online version of its current workshop curriculum in the coming weeks.
USAY, a student group, has previously focused on running in-person workshops to prevent sexual assault on campus and foster a healthier sexual climate at Yale. The new online curriculum, which will provide access to videos and sample scenarios mimicking the workshops, aims to get students to think critically about campus culture. USAY leaders told the News the new initiative seeks to reach out to marginalized groups who are often the target of sexual assault. Helen Price ’18, co-director of USAY, explained that USAY felt “a lot of the groups who were seen as being part of the problem weren’t being invited to be part of the solution.”
“We want to give men the tools to analyze their behavior, to be allies and to make a positive difference,” Price said.
USAY board member and former president of the fraternity Sigma Nu Max Cook ’17 said he understood the apprehension some male students may initially feel with respect to organizations like USAY. Cook added that he thought the current in-person workshops are neither antagonistic nor “an indictment of men.”
Cook lauded USAY’s online curriculum expansion, which allows students to access the information in a way they feel comfortable.
“In situations of sexual assault it may be very traumatic for someone to physically reach out to an individual or a support group on campus to seek advice or help,” Cook said. “Having this online resource as a first place to go creates a low-pressure and low-stress way for someone to begin to navigate the resources available to them here at Yale.”
Anna Hope Emerson ’20, USAY’s social media director, said that expanding their resources into an online platform was a top priority this year. She said the initiative started with the “Support a Friend” section of USAY’s website, which advises students on how to care for their friends in the aftermath of a sexual assault and into the healing process.
Emerson also said she believes it is vital for students who are not involved with the USAY-affiliated groups to have access to the workshop curriculum.
Price explained that USAY’s method of engagement with all-male audiences was intentional: After two years of workshops spanning over 250 participants, Price felt like men were often unsure of their role in the conversation about sexual misconduct.
Jack Williamson ’18, one of USAY’s co-directors for Greek life and campus education, noted the need for a standardized system in which social groups on campus can extend survivor support services to their members. Because of this, another component of USAY’s online resources will be a sample of such a system that can serve as a template for groups to use.
Cook — who said the discussions focus on issues that often go overlooked on campus, like power dynamics and toxic forms of masculinity — expressed his hope that resources such as these will not only empower victims to seek care in whatever manner they prefer, but will also encourage dialogue around this issue.
USAY was founded in fall 2015.