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Harvard athletics forces students to attend sexual assault and gender training programs

‘Mandatory’ training comes in wake of controversies on Harvard’s campus

Harvard’s Athletics Department is ordering student athletes to attend a total of five training programs related to gender, bias and sexual assault.

The slate of programs will include “mandatory sexual assault prevention and conflict resolution trainings for athletes and department staff, as well as an unconscious bias training for staff and coaches,” according to The Harvard Crimson.

The department will also engage in “diversity dialogues,” as well as “Giving Voice to Values,” an event held in August meant to to “align the values of the College, the department and each individual team together,” the article reports.

In October of last year, The Crimson unearthed and publicized the existence of a sexual “scouting report” made by the men’s soccer team about members of the women’s team. An investigation by the Office of General Counsel revealed that this list was an annual tradition that had been ongoing for four years. Harvard subsequently canceled the remainder of the team’s season.

Reached for comment via email, Tim Williamson, the associate director of Harvard’s Athletics Department, provided The College Fix with a message that athletics director Bob Scalise sent out to Harvard’s student-athletes. That email makes reference to “a number of significant challenges last year” regarding “a range of issues, including team cultures, coaching philosophies, and equity in the support of our teams.”

Referring to the results of a “cultural review” the department undertook last spring, Scalise wrote that the department will take several steps to “address [the] feedback” generated by the survey. Among the ways the department will respond include “expand[ing] the training we provide on gender, gender equity and sexual assault and harassment prevention for our student-athletes, coaches and staff. “

Scalise also vowed that the department will “develop diversity goals in line with the culture and values of the department and the College, communicate these goals, and reinforce the value of these goals to our overall department’s success.”

Beginning this month, according to The Crimson, student athletes will be forced to attend a gender and sexual harassment program that the Athletics Department “redesigned” with the help of the university’s Title IX office as well as the Office for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.

The training for staff and coaches will start in the beginning of November with the full schedule launching in Spring of 2018. The department’s new resolution program will begin in December with the help of Harvard’s human resources office.

Alongside these new mandatory programs, the Athletics Department has also made changes to its complaints process. Scalise has been meeting with teams and captains to explain the “channels” available to students who want to voice their concerns. The department will also include information about the complaint process and other resources that are available in the student handbook this year.

“I’m excited that it’s going to be something that is mandatory for all of our teams every year, and it’s also encouraging that the NCAA has basically seen this as an issue and said all NCAA Division I athletes have to have this training as well,” Scalise told The Crimson.

The College Fix repeatedly reached out to Harvard’s Title IX office for comment but did not receive a response.

MORE: University hosts training on how to ‘reduce the impact of white privilege’

MORE: Professor: my school ‘wastes time and money on sexual assault training’

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About the Author
Bethany Torstenson is a sophomore at Vanguard University of Southern California. She is double majoring in broadcast journalism, and in political science. Bethany has previously worked with the Republican Party of Wisconsin, and Americans for Prosperity. One day, Bethany hopes to become a multimedia broadcast journalist, and eventually run for president.

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