Improving Sexual Climate On Campus

Mar 28, 2013

Yale University has introduced new workshops for students aimed at reducing sexual misconduct and improving the sexual climate on campus. Many sexual misconduct and prevention programs for college students center on decision-making and consent.

But if you’re at the point where there’s a question about consent, then you already have a communication problem, says Yale student Matt Breuer. He’s a Communication and Consent educator at the university. He says Yale’s workshops begin with conversation about sexual pressure.  

"Recognizing sexual pressure, how to break up sexual pressure and break that cycle. And then sort of how to communicate your own desires and feeling that that’s going to be respected."

This year Yale launched a new workshop on the prevention strategy known as “bystander intervention”. Students begin by watching a movie.

"It depicts a woman like 20 years old, our age, going out through the night, and it essentially leads up to what could be a sexual assault. And then it rewinds back and shows all the different ways that various people could have stepped in and changed the result."

Students learn safe and easy intervention skills, ways to help friends who may be in situations that could escalate into sexual assault. 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights launched an investigation in 2011 after a Title IX complaint was filed over Yale’s response to incidents of sexual harassment and assault on campus. Title IX is the civil rights law that says schools receiving federal money cannot discriminate against women. The probe concluded last year with an agreement, and federal authorities recognized Yale’s voluntary efforts to deal with concerns raised in the complaint.