Sexual assault education pilot program to launch at the University of Maryland

url-1This news is a bit old, but good news is so rare in our work that I thought it would be a good place to start. Full disclaimer: I wrote the proposal for this pilot program and worked very closely on it, so take my reporting with a grain of salt.

Starting in fall 2013, about 30 percent of UMD’s freshman class will be required to attend a Violence Intervention Program (VIP) workshop by the university’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Program, according to UMD’s student paper, The Diamondback. The 75-minute-long workshop will heavily on bystander intervention, giving students the tools to be positive bystanders and actively fight sexual violence on the campus.

The pilot program is just one component of a full mandate, which would require every incoming student — freshmen and transfer — to complete a VIP workshop. The full mandate is currently under proposal by the University Senate, with approval expected in October and full implementation expected for fall 2014.

Although Maryland hasn’t had a major rape scandal in the national news, it’s a common problem on the campus. Some fraternities are known for having histories of gang rape. At the annual Clothesline Project, fraternities and athletes are frequently named by victims. But there’s also immense support for this education proposal: More than 1,500 community members signed a Change.org petition, urging senators to pass the full mandate.

To learn more, keep up with UMD Feminists — the campus feminist group — on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

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