Campus Violence needs to be at the Forefront of University Agenda

While much of recent media attention has been focused on racial tensions stemming from the racist chants of a University of Oklahoma fraternity member on board a bus, the fact remains that one of the most pressing issues facing members of campus communities is the prevention of sexually violent crimes, specifically those committed against women. Sadly, this is a growing problem that appears to receive the most coverage when a member of a university athletic team is involved. The problem is simply far more reaching than that.

With New Legislation Comes New Training Requirements

Last fall the Campus SaVE Act took effect. This legislation reforms the Jeanne Cleary Act and the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”). Key components of the Campus SaVE Act include a requirement that all students and employees receive education on the prevention of sexually violent crimes on campus, including domestic violence. If your institution is not already training all incoming students and employees on stalking, rape, date rape, domestic violence and other violent crimes it is time that you start.

Legislators Visiting Campuses to Survey Compliance

Members of the legislature have recently begun visiting campuses to survey compliance with the new requirements and promote the positive impact that SaVE’s new requirements will have on campus culture. Just last week U.S. Senator Kirsten Gllibrand hosted a discussion aimed at combating sexual violence on campuses in America. Indeed, as the problem of sexually related violence on campuses grows nationally more and more legislators are taking notice and making the reduction of this violence a key point of their agenda.

Syntrio’s Prevention of Campus Violence Course is Aimed at Reducing Violent Incidents on Campus

In addition to complying with the requirements of Campus SaVE, Syntrio has recently released an online training course that takes real-world scenarios and instructs students and university employees on how to avoid getting into a situation wherein abuse or violence may occur. Indeed, by educating members of the campus community on how to engage in bystander intervention and reliance on other members of the community we aim to help institutions prevent violent crimes before they occur.

When Crimes Occur on Campus the Entire Community is Impacted

When a woman is raped on campus or is a victim of a stalking incident a culture of fear is perpetuated within the entire community. Clearly the victims must be protected, but there is a far broader range of implications for the community as a whole. By educating students and employees on preventing these very incidents the community becomes more close knit and rallies around one another, thereby promoting a positive culture within the campus.

Syntrio’s representatives are ready to show you more about our new prevention of campus violence course. If you feel you would like a program tailored to your specific facility and specific issues therein we can create a custom course for you.  Contact www.syntrio.com for more information and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your institution!

 

Now is the Time for Universities to Implement Proactive Solutions to Sexually Violent Crimes on Campus

A recent string of allegations on college campuses has again called into question the safety of members of campus communities across the country. While the recent incidents have highlighted the involvement of athletes and fraternity members, the stark reality is that these incidents have become high profile due to the level of accountability that is inherent for members of recognized organizations. For the general campus community there are far greater dangers than fraternity parties or chance encounters with athletes (not to say that any sort of misconduct is justifiable in any way).

Universities Slowly Beginning to Take Proactive Steps to End Sexual Violence

A recent Yahoo! article highlights the steps taken by several institutions to reduce incidents of sexually violent crimes on their campuses. For example, the University of Virginia is now considering new courses on sexual violence, and is taking recommendations from members of its campus community. At Brown University, the administration has evaluated its handling of complaints in “traumatic situations.”

While the aforementioned steps appear to be in the right direction, in reality they fall short of the requirements of the Campus SaVE Act and other legislation that recently went into effect. These laws require institutions of higher learning not only to report incidents of sexual and domestic violence, but also to provide education to students, faculty, and other members of the campus community on prevention of these types of crimes. At present it is difficult to tell how many colleges and universities are complying with this requirement.

According to the Yahoo! article, at Dartmouth, a four-year, mandatory sexual violence program has gone into effect. This program teaches members of the community about the dangers of campus crimes by housing a professor in “residence” at each of the dormitories in order to interact with students and advise them on prevention strategies and other useful tools. Such an expansive program is certainly the right line of thought, yet its reach may be limited to those members of the community who actually live on campus. This is where online training comes into play.

Online Training is the Cost-Effective and Time-Sensitive Solution for Reaching the Greatest Number of Students and Employees

Every student and faculty member on a college campus is equipped with a computer and access to the internet, either personally or in public. By implementing our prevention of campus violence courses (fully customizable to suit your institutional needs) you will be able to distribute the content to the members of your campus and begin widespread training and prevention programs immediately.

Syntrio’s one-hour course focuses on not only the information required by law, but provides real-life scenarios that are relatable to the college student or university employee. The goal of the course is to put students and faculty in a position to avoid incidents before they occur and foster a sense of community and bystander intervention into your campus. By educating those most likely to fall victim to sexually violent crimes, training unites the campus community to rally around prevention.  Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our workplace violence prevention courses and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your institution!

Workplace Violence is Real and Coming to an Office Near You If You Don’t Take Preventative Measures

April 2015 is Workplace Violence Awareness Month. Although it is sad that we even have to type those words, the reality is we live in a dangerous time where the threat of an individual coming into the office with a gun and attacking innocent victims is all too real. Between 2006 and 2010 3,000 people were victims of workplace homicides in the United States. Clearly this is an issue that needs attention both from a simple workplace safety perspective and from a liability perspective.

Threats of Workplace Violence Cause a Stressful Environment

They typical workplace violence scenario does not end in gunfire, but is nevertheless stressful for everyone involved. Most commonly, a disgruntled employee or ex-employee makes a threat of violence towards a supervisor, manager, or generally on the office he or she works or worked at. While the vast majority of these threats are never carried out, they set in motion a chain of events that ends in the office seeking and obtaining a civil harassment restraining order against the individual who made the threat. This process is expensive and time-consuming yet absolutely necessary to protect the office from liability in the event the individual comes into the office guns blazing.

In addition to the legal process that must be initiated, employees must be notified that a threat has occurred, leading to serious emotional toll on the office as a whole. This can often mean employees out on stress-related leave and a total loss of productivity from a threat of workplace violence. Sadly, this is the best-case scenario. If an employee actually commits an act of violence in the office the aftermath is far worse. With that in mind, how can the risk of workplace violence be reduced?

Workplace Violence Training Programs Mitigate the Risk of Dangerous Acts

The problem of workplace violence is an outgrowth of the bullying and psychological turmoil faced by some individuals both at home and at work. Therefore, by training employees on the value of diversity in thought and fostering a culture that frowns on negative treatment toward employees, you can implement a preventative strategy whereby employees know they can come to upper management for help before things get out of control.

Although such a strategy does not eliminate the risk of a rogue employee committing a violent act or threat thereof, you can at least be confident that by training managers on anti-bullying and diversity that you have fostered a workplace culture that will not tolerate the types of behavior most likely to lead an employee to threaten or commit an act of workplace violence. Indeed, it is the culture that can prevent these acts from happening.

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses prevent horrific acts of violence from taking place within their offices. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our workplace violence prevention courses and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your business!

Recent High-Profile Campus Incidents Highlight the Need for Increased Prevention of Campus Violence Training

Three high-profile Title IX lawsuits against major universities in recent months highlight the lack of training taking place on college campuses across the nation. All three incidents involve sexual misconduct on the part of college athletes. Clearly, not enough is being done to curb this sort of behavior, which sadly only gained notoriety due to the visibility of the students accused of the misconduct. Make no mistake, failing to train your students and employees on the dangers of campus violence is not only dangerous, it is also against the law.

By way of background, the Campus SaVE Act amended the Jeanne Cleary Act to require additional reporting measures and education of students and faculty on all college campuses that receive federal funding. Similarly, Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex (including harassment and violent crimes) on all of these same campuses. As such, colleges and universities have a duty to educate members of their communities on the prevention of sexually violent crimes, something that sadly has not taken hold in the wake of studies and reports showing that these types of crimes are still rampant in the college setting.

The first of three recent lawsuits involves the allegations of a University of Oregon woman who claims she was gang-raped in a restroom by three members of the University’s men’s basketball team. The lawsuit also alleges that the University failed to take action until the following May. This troubling incident highlights the fact that some institutions care so much about the negative publicity that comes to light from investigating these incidents that they do nothing until many months after the alleged assaults take place.

A key highlight of Syntrio’s prevention of campus violence training and prevention of harassment on campus courses is providing members of the campus community with the tools to effectively participate in bystander intervention. Although bystander tactics will not necessarily prevent a coordinated gang-rape scenario like the one discussed above, they will provide groups of students with better preparation to stop a potential assault before it starts. Had the basketball players accused of assaulting the Oregon woman been better prepared it is possible that the incident may never have occurred.

A second incident of group assault led to a lawsuit against Vanderbilt University. There, a member of the school’s football team has been accused of involvement in a gang-rape of a female student. This time the accused blamed the school’s culture of “sexual freedom” for allowing him to become involved in the incident. While this excuse is extremely skeptical, it does bring to light the need for highlighting an institution’s policy against sexually violent crimes.

Yet another highlight of prevention of campus violence training courses is education about each individual facility’s mission and culture of preventing crimes against women. By educating faculty and students about the policies of the school for reporting crimes and potential incidents of rape, stalking and domestic violence, members of the community are better prepared to identify the signs of these types of crimes before they occur. Reduction in violent incidents is the goal of Syntrio's training courses, and it is critical that students and faculty are aware that while a school encourages “freedom” and “open-mindedness,” “freedom of sexual violence” is never permitted.

Finally, in perhaps the most high-profile incident of campus violence over the past two years, former Florida State Quarterback (and Heisman trophy winner) Jameis Winston’s accuser has filed a Title IX lawsuit against the University. Winston is accused of sexually assaulting an acquaintance in December 2012. After a lengthy investigation the University determined that Winston did no wrong. The woman’s lawsuit alleges that the University did not do enough to investigate the incident. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), when the allegations broke, Florida State’s football team was ranked toward the top of the polls and ultimately won the 2013 National Championship, leading to speculation that the University either covered up Winston’s culpability or hid its head in the sand.

Acquaintance rape is one of the most common forms of campus violence, and is a focal point of Syntrio’s prevention of campus violence course, as well as its higher education harassment prevention courses for employees and management. Indeed, acquaintance rape is especially dangerous because it is often under reported. All too many women are victimized when things go too far, and educating men and women as to the need for explicit consent prior to engaging in sexual activity is crucial to prevention of sexually violent crimes.

Syntrio developed its prevention of campus violence and campus harassment courses with the sensitive nature of the topics discussed in mind. Indeed, the goal of all of our campus programs is to reduce the incidence of campus violence while maintaining compliance with the various state and federal laws. We can help train your students, faculty, and upper management to identify the risks and signs of sexually violent behavior and lead to a more positive campus community.

Contact Syntrio for more information and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your business!