Since the issuance of Title IX guidelines in 2011, Swarthmore has worked to revise and improve its sexual misconduct policy and provide better information and access to resources for issues regarding sexual assault and misconduct.
As a part of this revision in policy, last week the Sexual Misconduct Advisors and Resource Team (SMART) held workshops for students to discuss issues regarding sexual misconduct at Swarthmore. One workshop focused on dating culture at college and another on campus culture. Sharmaine LaMar, Title IX Coordinator, said in an email, “The most recent SMART events have focused on how individuals can build a culture of support and empowerment for those affected by sexual assault.”
Lisa Sendrow ’13, a member of SMART, said participants talked about feelings of discomfort in campus situations.
“The workshop on campus culture focused on feeling uncomfortable during class, at the library or at Paces and so on,” she said. “We talked about ways to make the campus safer. Whether it’s a classroom, at a party, your bedroom, wherever you may be.”
As the events were considered a safe space, the personal stories and experiences shared by students who attended cannot be reported in detail, but Sendrow singled out communication as an important topic of discussion at the workshops. She said, “We talked about the importance of communication and the importance of talking to each other before you do anything with the other person. We also discussed the idea of the ‘nice guy’ personality and what that means.”
Alexander Noyes ’15, a member of the Sexual Health Counselors (SHCs), spoke about the role SHCs play in issues concerning sex and sexual health.
“Any questions about issues like consent, making consent sexy, how gender identity and gender expression interact with a healthy sex life, etc., are all questions that people can bring to us as a group,” he said, “We would be happy to collaborate and assist in any events which do address these topics.”
Mayra Tenorio ’15, another Sexual Health Counselor, said that it was important to have approachable resources on campus for sexual assault and health issues. “Not everybody in different countries and cultures thinks it’s okay to talk and learn about sexual health. A lot of how sexism starts is how sex and sexual health is talked about. For women it’s not encouraged, open, etc. It’s a privilege to know and be educated about such things,” she said. Tenorio highly approved of SMART’s efforts to facilitate such dialogue.
LaMar and Sendrow were both pleased by the success of the workshops and the number of students who attended. While LaMar confirmed an approximate attendance of 70 students, Sendrow was particularly pleased by the fact that the workshops created a dialogue between the students, SMART members and Beth Kotarski, Director of Worth Health Center and Patricia Fischette, a Counseling and Psychological Services staffer, who are both SMART advisors.
The referendum on Greek life was a popular topic of conversation at these workshops, though SMART members have not reached a consensus on their view of Greek life.
“The main thing is we care about the safety of the student body. I think it’s important for SMART to find out what makes people feel uncomfortable and work with the brothers to improve on it,” Sendrow said. “We just want to keep people safe and prevent assault. SMART and the brothers have worked together in the past and received positive feedback. We’ll continue doing so.”
Now that the workshops are over, SMART members are looking forward to planning for approaching Genderfuck party. They will be holding workshops, training members of Delta Upsilon, Phi Psi and Kappa Alpha Theta to be sober hosts at the party and working closely with members of the Drug and Alcohol Resource Team, in preparation for the event.