Let me begin this post by saying, War Eagle! (It is football season…). Football and silliness aside, I am an Auburn fan because I attended Auburn University. I graduated last year and sometimes I wish I could have done five years instead of the traditional four, I miss it that much (my parents’ wallet would disagree.)
Sexual harassment is a serious problem, and according to an article, “one in five women in college are victimized by attempted or completed assaults.” I also read that fewer than half of all assaults are ever even reported to authorities. Sex crimes are frequently under-reported due to many reasons including fear of retaliation from the perpetrator.
Auburn University does a great job of reducing the risk for sexual assault. The university offers AU ALERT, a system that communicates emergency information to students quickly via text, call and email. The campus is also equipped with eight outdoor warning sirens that communicate immediate emergencies on campus.
While these are great measures in reducing the risk of harassment claims, while my university undoubtedly has a harassment policy, I never received any sexual harassment training. Did your college offer any training alongside their policy?
Let’s talk about why it’s important to have sexual harassment training programs..
Will CASA Help?
Congress passed the bill, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA) on Wednesday, August 13th. Among other provisions, CASA mandates that every college is required to participate in a survey about students’ experiences and then publish these results online. The idea is to provide information about those incidents that do not get reported and to punish those that do not report. According to the New York Times, colleges run the risk of losing their federal funding if they mishandle sexual assault cases, such as failing to report incidents. This punishment could mean college shutdown or tuition increase for students. The new bill proposes fines up to 1 percent of a college’s operating budget, meaning while it may be a sizeable fine, it would not be as damaging as losing federal funding. But what really makes passing the bill worthwhile is the opportunity it creates beyond surveys, including sexual harassment training.
Colleges Can Learn from Corporations: CASA Needs Sexual Harassment Training To Succeed
The greatest asset with passing of the bill is giving organizations the opportunity to expand beyond compliance and become innovative leaders in how they address the topics of sexual assault and harassment. Since universities and colleges have to comply by administrating surveys, CASA may encourage employing trainers experienced in sexual assault investigations. According to Shanlon Wu, a former federal prosecutor whose law practice focuses on white-collar crime, criminal and student defense matters, says:
“The law would likely force colleges and universities to consider using new specialized training provided by trainers experienced in sexual assault investigations, such as former sex offense prosecutors and sex offense detectives.”
Offering a sexual harassment training program is just another way organizations can mitigate the risk of sexual harassment and assault. Federal and state lawmakers can even craft the bill to where it is required to offer training to employees and students alike. This got me thinking of all the ways The Network helps mitigate the risk of sexual assault in the workplace.
Here at The Network we offer a great comprehensive Harassment and Discrimination Program that helps educate employees regarding harassment and discrimination. We also just released a great whitepaper that offers great insight on the benefits training has for employees. The whitepaper addresses the impact of the California Assembly Bill 1825 (“AB 1825”) on employees ten years later. AB 1825 mandates that employers who do business in California provide two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to their employers and employees. In this whitepaper, Raanan Gal of Taylor English Dumas, LLP outlines a brief history and overview of AB1825 as well as whether mandating training as the cornerstone of prevention efforts has had any effect in workplaces.
Colleges aren’t the only organizations that want to keep the members of their communities safe – companies also want to protect their most valuable assets, their employees. Let me re-iterate: the best way to mitigate the risk of sexual harassment is through sexual harassment training. With the help of CASA, hopefully colleges will see the benefits of requiring training alongside their policy. What training does is it really drives sexual harassment to the forefront of individuals’ minds and educates employees, students, and managers on the complex harassment and discrimination laws and issues there is today.
For More Information About Sexual Harassment Training, Check Out These Resources: