Culture of Respect initiative aims to end sexual misconduct at UM-Flint

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The University of Michigan-Flint is working to end sexual violence on campus as part of a nationwide group of colleges and universities. (Photo by UM-Flint)
The University of Michigan-Flint is working to end sexual violence on campus as part of a nationwide group of colleges and universities. (Photo by UM-Flint)

The University of Michigan-Flint is working to end sexual violence on campus as part of a nationwide group of colleges and universities.

In 2019, UM-Flint was accepted into the fourth cohort of the Culture of Respect Collective. Culture of Respect is a NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) initiative that offers evidence-based best practices and utilizes existing programs and resources on campus to end sexual violence. About 30 institutions are part of the cohort.

“The Culture of Respect program provides a structured and evidence-based way for UM-Flint to think about culture change as it relates to sexual violence,” said Tess Barker, senior director for special projects and acting director for the Center for Gender and Sexuality. “It goes far beyond the minimums of compliance, but supports the campus in addressing barriers or underlying issues that relate to sexual violence on campus.”

Culture of Respect aids UM-Flint in creating a multi-pronged approach to create deep change across the university, focusing on identifying solutions that will work for UM-Flint.

Sexual assault is widespread at universities across America. One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, with numbers even higher for transgender individuals.

Culture of Respect focuses on six pillars:

  • survivor support,
  • multitiered education,
  • clear policies,
  • ongoing self-assessment,
  • schoolwide mobilization,
  • and public disclosure.

UM-Flint is focusing initially on clear policies and multitiered education. This aligns with the upcoming implementation of the U-M Sexual Misconduct Umbrella Policy, which includes common definitions for prohibited conduct and responsible employees, separate procedures for addressing student misconduct allegations and those of employees and third parties, and further clarifies available confidential resources and ways to report misconduct.

The 23-member UM-Flint Campus Leadership Team is comprised of students, faculty, and staff from across the university. The diversity of the team allows for multidisciplinary involvement and contributions about how to create and promote a safe, healthy culture at UM-Flint in which all students, faculty, and staff know how to be a good ally to survivors.

“As a student participating in the Culture of Respect initiative, I have loved being a member of a team that is incrementally creating changes that cause ripple effects across campus,” said Kayla Stiles, a Center for Gender and Sexuality Peer Educator and a senior studying nursing. “I feel passionately that students, staff, and employees deserve to feel safe while on campus. By providing the campus with better training and supplying more resources, we raise the bar as a university that embodies what the ‘Leaders and Best’ truly represent.”

As part of Culture of Respect, UM-Flint’s Campus Leadership Team conducted a guided self-assessment and core evaluation which is informing the creation of a proposed campus implementation plan to be submitted to the Chancellor and Cabinet this summer. The Campus Leadership Team is also developing plans to continue this important work beyond the program’s two-year time frame.

Up-to-date information about the Culture of Respect is available online.

Resources

Lindsay Knake is the Communications Coordinator for the UM-Flint Division of Student Affairs. Contact her with any questions, comments, or ideas about DSA social media, events, and communications.