News | Student Life

First-years say new NSOP sexual assault workshop takes serious tone with thorough presentations

  • NEW TRAINING | Barnard and Columbia first-years were the first to attend a new, two-part workshop on sexual violence and gender-based misconduct on Thursday.

Updated, Aug. 30, 12:10 p.m.

Barnard and Columbia first-years were the first to attend a new, two-part workshop on sexual violence and gender-based misconduct on Thursday, which administrators reworked following criticism from student activists, as a mandatory part of this year’s NSOP.

The new training replaced last year’s Consent is Sexy workshop with Health Services, but kept a play about maintaining a healthy lifestyle at college. Student activists asked administrators to revise the consent course last year so that the workshop would be mandatory and have a more serious tone.

University officials did not allow press into Thursday’s training because they said they were worried that the presence of reporters would inhibit discussion and prevent candid questions from the new students.

According to first-year students who attended the training, the first half of the session—held in Roone Arledge Auditorium—was a presentation on sexual assault that included scenarios of different types of sexual assault and gender-based misconduct.

The presentation, given by the Sexual Violence Response staff and students, focused on defining consent, and on the different types of sexual assault and gender-based misconduct that occur on campus and how to prevent them.

Deputy Title IX Coordinator Rosalie Siler and La’Shawn Rivera, the director of Sexual Violence Response, defined consent, according to Zachary Silber, SEAS ’18, as “an enthusiastic yes that was gained without the use of intimidation or coercion.”

At the beginning and end of the presentation, students were asked to participate in an anonymous texting poll. One of the questions asked first-years if they knew anyone who had experienced sexual violence.

Nicholas Kreiling, CC ’18, said that at the beginning of the session, very few students answered yes to the question asking if any friends had been survivors of sexual violence—but that changed by the session’s end.

“At the end, a lot more people said yes,” Kreiling said.

The presentation concluded with a screening of the #NotAskingForIt video made last spring by Columbia students as part of Project Not Asking For It.

After the presentation, students split into groups for smaller discussions in separate rooms. In each group, two consent educators spoke to four to five Orientation Leader groups about on-campus resources and answered any students’ questions about how the University handles sexual assault.

Consent educators—who received three days of training from Sexual Violence Response earlier this week—said that the primary objective of the group session was to inform first-years of the three primary on-campus resources for sexual violence and gender-based misconduct: Sexual Violence Response, the Gender-Based Misconduct Office, and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. The consent educators described the roles of each office and emphasized that SVR is confidential while the latter two are not.

After a presentation on resources, consent educators led a Q&A on the information presented in the first half of the session. Educators did discuss some aspects of Columbia's adjudication process, including how to file a report and the investigation process, but said they could not address their own opinions on University policies.

Informational handouts from SVR as well as off-campus resources addressing stalking, dating violence, and rape as a men’s issue, were given out to each student inside customized SVR iPad cases.

The second half of the session concluded with an evaluation form, which quizzed students on their knowledge of consent and asked them to provide feedback on the workshop.

Overall, students said that they found the workshop informative and in-depth, but—at times—repetitive.

“It was definitely very exact,” Hayden McGovern, CC ’18, said. “It was a little long and boring … it felt like an hour and a half of definitions.”

“I thought they really drilled in the information, which was good,” Moorea Colby, BC ’18, said.

In addition to Thursday’s session, students either attended or will attend Step UP!, a bystander intervention workshop, which included campus-specific training on bystander intervention. Bystander intervention at NSOP was another request from student activists, and Step UP! was piloted on campus for athletes last year.

Ben Sheng contributed reporting.

maia.bix@columbiaspectator.com  |  @MaiaClay4

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that this year’s training also replaced the Health Services play about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The training replaced the workshops, but not the play. Spectator regrets the error.

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SoWoS posted on

"if any friends had been sexual violence"
What an intense typo.

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anonymous posted on

Is there anything else happening on campus you can write about? I am sick of reading about this. Old news? What else is going on?

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Anonymous posted on

STEP UP! wasn't piloted in response to student activists. SVR has been developing that program for years with input from a variety of student groups.

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Anonymous posted on

Thanks for mentioning this! There have been a lot of people on campus who have been heavily involved with work around the issues of sexual violence long before the last year of increased media attention. I am always happy when we can recognize those people's work. I wish that they could be more involved in conversations around our strategies for education and prevtion because provide a wealth of experience that has often been overlooked as these issues become mainstreamed- not that mainstreaming these issues is at all a bad thing of course!

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Anonymous posted on

This is good, but not serious enough. Expel the rapists. Facilitate NYPD to take up cases on them. Make the expulsions public. Put the expulsions permanently on these perverts' Columbia University transcripts. Be sure to tell other colleges, grad schools, and prospective employers about it. Don't do this NSOP thing as a goddamned excuse for not doing the other things. Get that, Bolly?

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anonymous posted on

NO! If you're raped GO TO THE POLICE!
If all you want is that your "rapist" is expelled, and your bad memory of your one-night stand disappears, then, sorry, I have doubts about your allegations. Rape is a serious crime and these cases should not be tried by "trained faculty" but by the police. Also, if someone is not expelled from the university that means THERE WAS NOT ENOUGH PROOF. Period!

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Anonymous posted on

"Also, if someone is not expelled from the university that means THERE WAS NOT ENOUGH PROOF. Period!"

Assuming the process is actually fair and unbiased, but the whole point is that people think the process is broken.

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Anonymous posted on

Columbia University protects rapists.

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anonymous posted on

"Columbia University protects rapists." YOU"RE so foolish for saying that. You know that's not true.

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Anonymous posted on

It is true. I will repeat. Columbia University protects rapists.

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Overkill? posted on

Glad that you think the NSOP program was good, but get real--who gets to make the "rapist" label? You? Expel the accused without due process? Force complainants to go to NYPD and press charges whether they want to or not? Dismiss prosecutor's judgment about cases they can't possibly win, reported months after an original incident with no evidence? Publicly and permanently disgrace the accused?

None of that is going to happen and for good reasons. I get that you're angry and want some Daddy to fix this with a dramatic, scorched-earth action, but YOU should attend a workshop and educate yourself about how all this really works before spouting off. You're not helping.

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Anonymous posted on

I think you would feel at home working for ISIS. Why don 't we
Decapitate accused. "Rapists" on the steps in front of Low Library.

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Anonymous posted on

Silence all loser trolls who read and harass college students in their blogs!

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anonymous posted on

I think you are harassing others by trying to silence them. If you think we should all think the same, why is that? (you shouldn't be at an IVY league university or any university for that matter.)

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The Enthusiastic "yes" posted on

Remember first-year students - if that enthusiastic "yes" mentioned in the workshop is not recorded (video or audio), you can still be accused of sexual assault if the accuser decides to do so later on, and you will be kicked off the campus before you're able to prove anything. In fact - you will not be given a chance to prove anything. There is still no due process.

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Overkill posted on

simply not true, read the policy

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here it is posted on

While the university notes that sexual assault, by definition, comes without consent, it modifies this provision in a critical way: "Alcohol and other drugs can lower inhibitions and create an atmosphere of confusion over whether consent is freely and affirmatively given." Taken literally, then, any alcohol use by the female party to sexual intercourse could call into question whether a Columbia tribunal will subsequently brand a male student a rapist, since even if the female gave consent, the university claim non-consensual contact on grounds of "confusion over whether consent is freely and affirmatively given."
In this atmosphere, accused students appear to be guilty until proven innocent

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Nathan Bailey, Columbia GS posted on

I mean no disrespect, but the above is not journalism. It is a rather blatant public affairs piece. This article is not critical of the subject in any way and bases its conclusions off informal interviews with three 18-year-old students. There are no dissenting voices, there is no inclusion of back story, there is no critical interview of the presenters or of the administrators who implemented the policies that resulted in this training. If journalism is to exist within the electronic pages of the Spectator, PR should be clearly labeled.
My problem with the above article however, was not my most pressing concern about what we endured this week. What has been bothering me daily since Tuesday was how imbedded the pedagogy was with patriarchal and misogynistic thinking. The training was taught with the assumption that there is a categorical victim in the realm of sexual assault, but not an equally categorical perpetrator.
According to the Justice Department's 2008 study on criminal victimization (the study quoted on several occasions by the presenters), more than 78 percent of rapes were committed by males. While it is certainly not the case that one-in-five males at Columbia is a rapist, the massive disparity should have been addressed in a way that "drilled in the information," and the fact that it was not is very disturbing and telling. During the portions of the training in which we were invited to "get real" the women of the room were accosted with statistics which essentially claimed "one-in-five of you will experience sexual violence during your stay at Columbia, and most likely it will be at the hands of someone you know and trust," but the absurdity of this is that no one turned to the males in the room to present the equally disturbing statistic that males are the ones who attack four-out-of-five times (Justice Dept, 2008).
What is seemingly the most glaring problem is that we socialize men to accrue power through the domination of women, but the training failed to discuss this in any kind of meaningful way. This training availed men of the criticism that is rightfully theirs to endure because it ignored the leading role males play in sexual violence. And to the Columbia male who would stand tall and say, "I'm not a rapist, why should I endure this criticism?," I appreciate your zeal, but please, get over it. We can not imagine the endurance and strength, not to mention the feat of forgetting, it takes women to live in a world in which there is a 20 percent chance of being raped; I think we can endure a 2-hour training session that is critical of our socialization and calls upon us to recognize this and do something about it.

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Anonymous posted on

Spec has never reported how many times they requested interviews of Bolly, all the deans, Columbia's legal counsel, and campus police about this. I dare to guess that however many, they were either declined or ignored every time. What have you got to hide, Bolly? Act, expel the rapists, send them over to NYPD, and grant interviews.

(Well, on the other hand, all the Spec staff are so green that they will screw up an interview. So, Spec staff, build the momentum but go with the New York Times. Yes, Columbia University must be shamed publicly until it cleans up its acts.)

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Anonymous posted on

That would be sexual profiling that is against the law. 95% of crimes and murders in the city are committed by black males, but the police are not allowed to stop them or profile men. Also your statistic is accused of the crime. Most males out of embarrassment never report a sexual assault.

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Anonymous posted on

Agree. I think sexual abuse and assault go both ways and is probably close to 50/50. The difference is only in the reporting. The males who come forward is negligible.

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Nathan Bailey, Columbia GS posted on

It would not be against the law for the sexual assault prevention training leaders to have said, "the majority of the students who commit acts of sexual violence are male; lets talk about that." This would have at the very least began an important conversation. Many theories and ideas would be shared, but the point would be is that Columbia would not be neglecting reality.

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Nathan Bailey, Columbia GS posted on

It would not be against the law for the sexual assault prevention training leaders to have said, "the majority of the students who commit acts of sexual violence are male; lets talk about that." This would have at the very least began an important conversation. Many theories and ideas would be shared, but Columbia would at least not be neglecting reality.

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Anonymous posted on

Hey all of you pieces of turds. We can make it simpler than these idiot deans are capable of. Ready? Here we go. EAT. SLEEP. STUDY. RESEARCH. PLAY SPORTS. DO NOT FUCK ANY COLUMBIA OR BARNARD COLLEGE STUDENT. DO NOT FUCK ANY COLUMBIA OR BARNARD GRADUATE STUDENT. DO NOT FUCK ANY COLUMBIA OR BARNARD STAFF. DO NOT FUCK ANY COLUMBIA OR BARNARD PROFESSOR (even if a physics professor is stripping in front of you). STAY OUT OF JAIL GRADUATE IN FOUR YEARS. Yeah we know. You could not for the life of you figure out any of this by yourselves.

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LOL posted on

I hadn't thought about Professor Hughes as part of the equation. He isn't even that sexy LOL. I agree with you on the rest of your comment, though. The question is what do you come for to a learning institution in the first place. Specially, why did you make such a great effort of come to Columbia. Stay away from trouble.

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Elizabeth Hegeman, M.A. Columbia '65 posted on

This sounds good, but it will take a lot more public responsibility from HIGHER administration officials for the earlier shockingly contemptuous communications and systematic silencing of victims on campus to mitigate the real harm done by an arrogant administration. I am not persuaded by this report that Columbia takes this problem seriously- students are still not adequately included in the hearing process.

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Anonymous posted on

This was not a problem when this was an all men's school. Just thinking back.

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