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For college freshmen, a lesson in sexual assault preparedness

CMU's sign
Central Michigan University
A state-appointed fact finder has issued a report on the dispute between the Central Michigan University Faculty Association and the administration.

Right now, college freshman around the state are getting training about sexual assault on campus.

At Central Michigan University, that even means going into the profile of perpetrators who commit acquaintance rape.

"This guy absolutely does not want to get caught," says Braden Thompson, one of CMU's trainers, during a 90-minute session about recognizing the patterns of sexual violence.

"He's going to say whatever he has to to make sure that person doesn't come forward and doesn't get him in trouble: 'You just got to this campus, I've been here for three years, nobody is going to believe you.'

"Or, 'If you say anything, I swear to God I will go for it, I will say you're a slut, I will say you hooked up with three of my teammates last night, I  will ruin your reputation. Nobody is going to believe you.'

"Whatever he has to do to make sure that person's going to keep their mouth shut, and he can get away with doing it again, and again, and again."  

While some schools, including CMU, have been doing this kind of training for years, federal law has started requiring colleges to offer training about sexual assault awareness and prevention to all new students and employees. 

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act went into effect this spring, and it requires trainingto include the following: 

  •  "A statement that the institution prohibits those offenses.
  • The definition of those offenses in the applicable jurisdiction.
  • The definition of consent, with reference to sexual offenses, in the applicable jurisdiction.
  • 'Safe and positive' options for bystander intervention an individual may take to 'prevent harm or intervene' in risky situations.
  •  Recognition of signs of abusive behavior and how to avoid potential attacks.
  •  Ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns for students and faculty on all of the above"
Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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