University of Minnesota community advisors will now receive more in-depth training on addressing sexual misconduct.
While training details aren’t finalized, it will cover how CAs can best respond to students who have concerns or who have experienced sexual misconduct. It will also include information on how the reporting process works so that CAs can inform students and give them the right resources, said Tina Marisam, University Title IX coordinator and Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action director.
CA training used to be handled by Housing and Residential Life, but the revamped training will be assisted by EOAA. The new program will be in place for the next school year.
Current and former CAs — students who provide support to students who live in residential halls — and the Minnesota Student Association pushed for revamped training.
Abeer Syedah, MSA president, said MSA members, many of whom are current or former CAs, wanted additional training because they didn’t feel that the current system properly trained CAs to handle sexual misconduct cases.
“Right now, CAs are just not equipped to deal with the kind of horrific things that you deal with when you live that intimately with students,” Syedah said.
A study of 305 sexual assault claims at 104 colleges and universities nationwide by United Educators, a higher education insurance company, found that 53 percent of reports occurred in a residence hall. The report was released in 2015.
Though it’s unclear how often sexual assault occurs in University residence halls, in 2015, there were six reports of rape or fondling in University residence halls and 10 in 2014, according to Clery Act data.
The additional training comes amid an increase in the number of sexual misconduct reports at the University.
Lauren Adamski, HRL coordinator of student conduct, said she hopes the Title IX training will help CAs become more comfortable with reaching out to EOAA.
“It is incredibly important for CAs to have that connection with members of the EOAA, an office that can seem kind of distant because of the work they do,” she said. “It is good to get feedback from the CAs because they work so closely with the students.”
Additionally, last summer, EOAA started Title IX training for first-year orientation leaders after the office received requests for it.
While reporting incidents is not mandatory for orientation leaders, this additional training helps encourage and inform leaders to report to EOAA, said Jenny Porter, associate director for Orientation and First-Year Programs.
Increased awareness of campus sexual assault may have contributed to a student push for greater training for leaders, Marisam said.
“Students are coming and saying, ‘I heard from someone who has gone through this, and I want to have the knowledge and skills to respond in a way that is sensitive and humane but also gives them the information they need,’” she said.