To prevent sexual violence – such as stalking, dating and domestic violence, and sexual assault – the fundamental causes of the violence must be addressed. These are not isolated crimes committed by people on the fringe of societal norms. These crimes are committed by individuals who are part of our society and who have learned behaviors of power and control, and use these strategies in their relationships.

Preventing sexual violence is not the responsibility of the survivor of the violence. Preventing sexual violence cannot be achieved by recommending that people restrict their activities in order to avoid being victimized. Risk reduction is not prevention. Instead, all of us can take a stand to prevent violence by confronting violent beliefs and attitudes before the violent actions occur.

Required training

To help prevent sexual violence, all members of the UC Berkeley community – students, staff, faculty and other academic appointees – are required to receive sexual violence prevention and intervention training and education regularly.

The curriculum, tailored to each audience, educates our community about sexual violence, how to prevent it, the role of intervention and what local resources are available.

Key concepts covered in the curriculum for every audience are:

  • Definitions of different forms of sexual violence.
  • Social norms, including the attitudes and beliefs that can normalize violence.
  • Bystander intervention.
  • Responding to sexual violence using methods that acknowledge the impact of violence and trauma on survivors’ lives.
  • Local resources, including confidential support for survivors of sexual violence and appropriate services for those accused of sexual violence.
  • Rights and opinions about reporting sexual violence.

Undergraduate students

All incoming undergraduate students are required to take an in-person training and an online training. Students are encouraged to take the online training prior to their arrival on campus and can access the Haven online module via their myBerkeley App (this must be completed within the first six weeks of class). The in-person training, Bear Pact, takes place the first week of school on campus. Visit http://survivorsupport.berkeley.edu/education-requirement for more information.

All continuing students will be required to take ongoing education and training annually. Additional details will be available during the upcoming academic year.

Graduate students

All incoming graduate students will be required to take education and training programming within the first six weeks of class. All continuing students will be required to take ongoing education and training annually. Additional details will be available during the upcoming academic year.

The first in-person presentations took place at the New Graduate Student Orientation. Students who attended one of the in-person sessions at NGSO on August 25 do not need to repeat this course. New students who did not attend one of those sessions must attend one of the in-person sessions offered in the fall semester. Information on additional sessions scheduled can be found at http://grad.berkeley.edu/sasv-prevention.

In addition, all incoming graduate or professional school students must complete an online educational program called Think About It: Graduate Students. Graduate students have received an email invitation from CampusClarity that links to this course. Deans and department and program chairs will follow up with students to ensure compliance during this semester.

Faculty and supervisors

Faculty and supervisors will be required to complete two hours of sexual harassment prevention training every two years, and new faculty and supervisors are required to take training within the first two months of hire. Starting January 2016, a faculty training and education plan will be implemented that will revise the content in the current sexual harassment prevention training and will include training for those who work directly with students such as faculty student advisors. Faculty and supervisors will also receive training on their legal obligations to report sexual violence. Additional details will be available during the upcoming academic year.

Staff and academic appointees (non-supervisors)

Starting December 2015, a staff training and education plan will be implemented that will require new employees to receive training within the first six weeks of hire. All continuing staff will receive training annually. Designated employees who are required to report sexual violence to Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (sometimes known as Title IX Office) will receive training on their legal obligations. Additional details will be available during the upcoming academic year.

Let’s talk about consent

According to UC policy, sexual assault is defined as “Any physical act of a sexual nature that is accomplished toward another without his/her consent.” So, understanding consent is necessary for recognizing and preventing sexual assault.

Consent is knowing exactly what and how much you are agreeing to, expressing your intent to participate, and deciding freely and voluntarily to participate.

“Consent is an affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.

Consent is voluntary. It must be given without coercion, force, threats, or intimidation. Consent means positive cooperation in the act or expression of intent to engage in the act pursuant to an exercise of free will.

Consent is revocable. Consent to some form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Consent to sexual activity on one occasion is not consent to engage in sexual activity on another occasion. A current or previous dating or sexual relationship, by itself, is not sufficient to constitute consent. Even in the context of a relationship, there must be mutual consent to engage in sexual activity. Consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter and can be revoked at any time. Once consent is withdrawn, the sexual activity must stop immediately.

Consent can not be given when a person is incapacitated. A person cannot consent if s/he is unconscious or coming in and out of consciousness. A person cannot consent if s/he is under the threat of violence, bodily injury or other forms of coercion. A person cannot consent if his/her understanding of the act is affected by a physical or mental impairment.”

From UC Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence

Step in!

Remember, our community has a shared responsibility to prevent sexual violence. If you observe a situation that doesn’t seem quite right, here’s how you can help:

  1. Trust your intuition: If something feels “off,” it probably is.
  2. Decide to act: If you’re present, you’re already involved. Take a stand.
  3. Do the right thing: If someone is being hurt, help them. If they’re hurting themselves or someone else, stop them. Take an action, safely, to change the situation.
  4. Follow through: Make sure the immediate risk is over and that everyone involved is safe.
  5. Get backup for yourself from people you can trust: friends, other students, staff and faculty.

For more about ways to notice and intervene in potentially harmful situations, watch this video from New Zealand’s “Who Are You?” campaign. Note: This video contains potentially triggering material, as it depicts events leading to a sexual assault. If this is a concern for you, you can start the video at the 5:00 mark to view different ways to be a good bystander.

Campus prevention approaches

Multiple student groups and units on campus collaborate on prevention programs to:

  • Educate the campus community about sexual violence in the context of a university setting and engage people in a commitment to get involved when they observe risky situations
  • Confront the oppressive stereotypes that are the basis for the disrespect that leads to interpersonal violence
  • Talk about healthy relationships and healthy sexuality, emphasizing the importance of communication and respecting personal boundaries
  • Coordinate campus-wide awareness efforts, such as town hall meetings, lectures, and other open spaces for dialogue on sexual violence
  • Links:
  • Gender Equity Resource Center: http://geneq.berkeley.edu/
  • University Health Services, Health Promotion: http://uhs.berkeley.edu/students/healthpromotion/
  • empowerU: workshops for new students and other groups: http://geneq.berkeley.edu/empowerU