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Regional Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment

“Sexual harassment and sexual assault are unconscionable and inexcusable actions. These acts don’t just attack the individual, they attack our entire Naval family and the ideals for which we all stand. I know that the leaders from colleges and universities who are joining us in this important regional discussion feel the same way about their institutions and their academic families. We must stand together, learn from each other, and declare together our common commitment to enabling our finest young people to stay focused on their mission and education without the threat of harassment and assault.” –Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly

Welcome to the Navy Live blog for the 2020 Regional Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment. Below you will find news articles, personal commentary from Navy senior leaders, and other content from the Feb. 6 event, in which the Department of the Navy (DON) and the University of New Mexico share strategies for combating assault and harassment in the academic setting.

Click here for the schedule of events.

For more information about the speakers, as well as resource materials on the Navy effort to prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual harassment, visit the official event page on the Office of the Secretary of the Navy website.

These partnerships serve to align our efforts in order to prevent sexual assault.  It’s vitally important that we synchronize our efforts, share initiatives, and collaborate in order to get at the problem.  Together, we are stronger. –DON, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) Director Melissa Cohen

Better People. Better Leaders. Better Nation
By Rear Adm. (ret.) Margaret Kibben
Senior Advisor, Department of the Navy, SAPRO

Addressing sexual assault is a priority for the military, and given the shared demographics, it should be no surprise that colleges and universities are contending with the same issue.  In April last year, the Secretary of the Navy convened the first National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s Colleges, Universities and Service Academies at the United States Naval Academy.  Acting Secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly, has indicated that “these are the community-level approaches we need to get after not just a military, university or industry-specific issue, but one of the toughest societal issues we face.”

As follow-up to last year’s national conference, the Department of the Navy’s Sexual Assault and Prevention Office (DoNSAPRO) is co-hosting with the University of New Mexico (UNM) a Regional Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s Colleges, Universities and Service Academies: Achieving Cultural Change through Data and an Evaluation Mindset. Experts from academia, the military, and other government agencies will be meeting together to discuss ways to eliminate sexual violence.

The partnership between DoNSAPRO and UNM is a natural fit. UNM is home to three ROTC programs (Army, Air Force, and Navy/Marine Corps) and has made a concerted effort to increase access to higher education for New Mexico’s veterans and their families. Sharing information, best practices, and effective methods for the prevention and response to sexual assault benefits both the university and military communities.

Of specific interest to this region is the startling fact that Indigenous people in the U.S. face higher rates of sexual violence than the general population. UNM has identified its intent to focus on this demographic and to address the concern that the numbers are even greater given the disinclination for this population to report. Discussions with regional experts, students, and staff, will serve to shed light on this question and its impact on the university and military community.

DoNSAPRO instituted the regional discussions in order to contribute to and participate in these very particular issues, as well as to advance the efforts in addressing mutual challenges. The first regional discussion was held in coordination with the State University of New York (SUNY) and has yielded productive and coordinated research in information gathering, (e.g., survey questions), to identify precursor behaviors in order to prevent sexual assault. Together SUNY, UNM, and other colleges and universities have partnered with DoNSAPRO to study bystander intervention, alcohol misuse, behavioral indicators, and other contributing factors, that contribute to sexual assault.

Additional resources on sexual assault and harassment in the military context:

Sexual Assault Prevention and Response/Commander, Navy Installations Command

United States Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Reports

Navy Live blog coverage of the National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s colleges and universities, April 4-5, 2019 U.S. Navy