CSCU campuses educating about sexual assault, dating violence

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(WTNH) – April is sexual assault awareness month and Connecticut universities and colleges are pushing to teach students more about campus sexual assault and dating violence.

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) has implemented a new program to address sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking on campus. The program, titled Bringing in the Bystander, is a 90-minute interactive session that focuses on bystander intervention. It teaches students and staff how to recognize inappropriate behavior, and how to safely respond if they witness an incident.

“We have to acknowledge that there are times when students know something is wrong but they feel helpless in being able to stop it,” said CSCU President Mark Ojakian. “These can be uncomfortable conversations but they have to occur if we are to address this issue from all fronts. The objective of the bystander program is to provide friends and peers some tools to stop an inappropriate situation from escalating if they see it happening.”

Over 1,000 CSCU students and staff participated in the program last fall and by the end of spring 2018, all 17 CSCU campuses will use the program.

“Facilitating Bringing in the Bystander on the CCSU campus has been a great experience,” said Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention Specialist, Sarah Dodd. “Students appear to really engage with the material and have open, honest discussions about sexual violence in our community, and the roles each of us can play in prevention. This program has been a strong addition to our prevention programming and the feedback from students has been excellent.”

On Monday, students and staff of all 17 CSCU institutions are invited to attend a training session on “Stalking on Campus” at Southern Connecticut State University. Representatives from the Office of Violence Against Women will lead the session.

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