New Programs Shed Light on Campus Sexual Assault

haven poster

For the past four years, upcoming first year students have been required to complete an online alcohol education class during the summer prior to orientation at McDaniel. Now, upcoming first years must also take part in a program called Haven, the portion of the AlcoholEdu class that teaches students about sexual harassment and assault which began with the class of 2017.

The original alcohol education program started with the class of 2015. These students were required to complete what was known back then as the “Alcohol-Wise” class. Two years later, starting with the class of 2017, the program changed to “AlcoholEdu” after its sponsor asked McDaniel to be part of the program.

One of the major differences between Alcohol-Wise and AlcoholEdu is Haven. This section provides information on how to deal with sexual harassment and assault from different perspectives, from the victim’s point of view to a bystander’s. Haven gives users suggestions on how to prevent sexual assault in different scenarios, such as parties and midnight walks. The program uses staged examples of these situations and how victims and bystanders should and should not react, giving a quiz to the students at the end of the video clips to test what they have learned. The program is relatively short, requiring no more an hour to complete.

Dean Elizabeth Towle, the Dean of Undergraduate Student Conduct at McDaniel, is the McDaniel administrator behind this program.

Dean Towle

Dean Elizabeth Towle

After four years of requiring upcoming students to take the online alcohol education course, Towle and other members of the faculty at McDaniel have seen a positive change.

Towle remarks that this program is effective “in conjunction with other programs [they] are doing on the campus,” such as the Late Night events sponsored by the First Year Team, as well as events sponsored by OSE (the Office of Student Engagement) and other organizations around campus.

In addition to AlcoholEdu and Haven, there are other programs around campus to raise awareness about sexual harassment and assault. One program is the Clothesline Project, founded in 1990 on Cape Cod, Mass., to address the issue of violence against women, though it later expanded to other types of violence. The Clothesline Project is currently sponsored by The Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County.

The campus has also put up posters that raise bystander awareness to help students become aware of and to learn more about sexual harassment and assault.

Alcohol Edu’s sponsor, EverFi, is a company whose main purpose is to educate students from all academic levels in basic decision making. The company possesses an array of programs from basic financial knowledge to the more elaborate programs, such as the alcohol education and sexual harassment and assault classes.

From the four years this Alcohol Edu online class has been implemented, Towle has not heard many negative reviews from students. The only remarkable thing that Towle has heard is that students don’t want to complete the class.

“Personally, I don’t drink, so it was annoying for me to take it,” says first year student Makaila Lyons. She adds, “However, it was good to learn how to save your friends from over-drinking.”

Sophomore Ben England mentions, “I thought it was useful to know this information, even though it was pretty lengthy. I am glad I only had to do it once.”

Junior Mariah Ligas is one of the many students who did not take Alcohol Edu with the addition of Haven, but instead took Alcohol Wise. On this old program, she says, “Apparently, it was supposed to include stuff about what consent is, but it didn’t emphasize it very much. I don’t remember that part at all.”

“During orientation, students are exposed to the school’s policies in regard of sexual harassment. This is done during College Policies 101,” says  Towle.

“If a student’s parents are actively engaged and are comfortable enough to have conversations about sexual interaction, gender-based violence, and consent, then this program will not be needed,” Mike Webster, head of Campus Safety at McDaniel, points out.

The number of reported cases in regards of sexual harassment has increased in the last four years. Towle sees the reports themselves as a positive.

“It shows that students are more aware of their resources on campus,” thus making them more able to report such incidents, Towle says.

Webster supports those who choose to report, stating that, “This is normal as institutions develop comprehensive and robust support systems for victims of sexual assault.”

To find more information about McDaniel’s sexual assault policies, visit the McDaniel Catalog or the McDaniel Portal, both of which contain policy handbooks on sexual assault and other school policies.

There are several ways to report incidents of sexual assault. The most immediate way to report these types of incidents is to call Campus Safety at 410-857-2202 or to email Mike Webster at mwebster@mcdaniel.edu.

Additional resources and support can be found by talking to a faculty member or peer mentor whom you trust, by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.