Over the past month, Community and Consent Educators from every residential college have facilitated workshops with first-year and sophomore students in order to support a more positive sexual and social climate at Yale.
Yale’s CCE program, established in 2011, hires students from every residential college who represent numerous student groups, according the CCE website. Every year, the group spends the first month of the term facilitating workshops for the first-year and sophomore classes. While many other sexual violence prevention programs may focus on consequences or fear, the CCE-run workshops strive to focus on the creation of a more positive, respectful space on campus in order to build a culture of mutual support and good decision making. By addressing underlying concerns in the way community members interact, the CCEs seek to create a stronger, more empowering community for all students.
“Our main goal in most of our workshops is to really highlight the skills that Yale students innately have and can use to improve the sexual climate of our campus,” said Jesse Nadel ’21, a Project Coordinator for the CCEs and a production and design editor for the News. “I think we as CCEs hold workshops to make what we implicitly know — about consent, bystander intervention, discomfort, pressure — more explicit in a structured setting. We really try to highlight and crowdsource the techniques that students are already using in their daily lives to promote positive interactions in their communities.”
During the month-long series of workshops, first-year students participated in a seminar called “The Myth of Miscommunication,” which addresses the commonly held belief that sexual assault happens as a result of miscommunication. The workshop emphasizes that communication and refusal of sexual activity are “consistent across circumstances of interaction and recognizable across gender,” according to the CCE website.
Sophomores participated in “Bystander Intervention,” which focuses on intervention skills and strategies, especially in lower-risk interactions in which students begin to see troubling patterns of sexual or romantic behavior. The workshop opens with the short film “Who Are You?” which features four possible modes of intervention to prevent sexual assault.
The sophomore workshop can be taken without the viewing of the video, as it contains sensitive material which may be triggering to some students. Still, students like Alaina Perry ’22, who specifically chose the no-video workshop, felt like the seminar could have been more sensitive.
“I signed up for the no video class expecting it to be easier to sit through, but it quickly came to my attention that a lot of people in the class had signed up for the no-video option simply because it fit in their schedule,” Perry said. “I wish that I had had a more accommodating option or [the CCEs] had made it so the intentions of the class [without the video] were clearer.”
While workshops are a critical part of the CCE job, Nadel added that as community educators, the CCEs work year-round to connect students to the resources they have on campus when dealing with issues of sexual misconduct including SHARE, the Title IX Coordinators and YPD.
He said that they work year-round in smaller groups to work on varied interventions promoting and supporting positive communication dynamics while disrupting negative dynamics within the larger community.
Alina Kramp ’22 found the “Bystander Intervention” workshop “really productive,” but cited the fact that CCEs can serve as an on-campus support system even more comforting.
“I think it’s nice to know that there are peers among us that have proper training to deal with situations like [sexual misconduct],” Kramp said. “I think it makes for a healthier and more aware sexual climate, even it’s just offering a helping hand to get someone to talk to SHARE, it’s good to have people who know where to take the situation.”
Yale received a record number of sexual misconduct complaints between Jan. 1 and June 30 this year, according to a report from the Office of the Provost released last week.
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