The Office of Sexual Violence Prevention and Education (OSVPE) was developed from a three-year, $300,000 grant from the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women and focuses on assessing, implementing, and sustaining programs on sexual violence prevention and education for the campus community.
Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator Alison Berk, whose position was created from part of the grant, noted that the resources and connections that have come from OSVPE are for all community members, no matter their gender or sexual identity.
“Identity plays an important part around how people move through the world and have experiences, including experiences of sexual and gender based violence,” said Berk. “We want our campus community to know that we’re going to take that into account, but we’re not here to judge and it won’t exclude them from any resources we have available to students.”
Berk noted that this is achieved through specialized training for the student peer network, Good Knights, as well as survivor advocates and trauma resources at the county-level.
“This type of violence comes from these really twisted ideas of what gender roles are,” said Berk. “The LGBTQIA+ community is already kind of wrestling with some of that, and it’s just part of the nature within that community. What we came up with to handle that root issue is our workshop around building a culture of consent where we talk about what the messages we get growing up that can translate to a belief and then into an action that can influence someone else. So, how do we understand and address that cycle, and use it to our benefit?”
Topics that the workshops address are ideas that masculinity equates to violence and femininity is weakness or needs to be controlled. The workshops also address issues that stop people from reporting acts of violence, harassment, and stalking.
“For members of the queer community, some of those things can be deep rooted shame and embarrassment because they’re being abused by people who don’t fit the gender roles of abuse or they don’t fit the gender roles of someone who gets abused,” said Berk. “If you layer that on top of things like if they’re not out to people or they’ve only come out to certain people we can see some serious issues.”
While the workshops started out addressing LGBTQIA+ statistics, Berk said they were eventually opened up to all students because it could benefit everyone understanding the psychological impact of defined gender roles.
“We’ve worked really hard to understand the intersections and understand that the problems of the queer community are problems for the Arcadia community,” said Berk. “They’re not separate and they’re not exclusive.”