Through discussion as well as realization for what would be most effective, we’ve decided to focus our action project on the faculty side of education and awareness for our issue. While we find addressing both student and faculty to be important, given the time frame and framework of this course, we felt that working to increase faculty awareness would have a better impact. With that being said, our issue to be addressed is the sensitivity and awareness of faculty for survivors of sexual assault on our campus. Currently, some students do not find curriculum accessible when it lacks content warnings regarding particularly sensitive material that could be retraumatizing. We are advocating for expansive sensitivity/Title IX training, a form of evaluation for students to voice their experiences on this, and integrating content warnings into classroom activities. We understand that faculty choose to include sensitive materials for very real and valid reasons, and we do not think these should be abolished, however, accomodating survivors through a means of a “heads up” about this material could make a great impact. The evaluation, in turn, would allow a measure of accountability, as well as a way to find more ways to improve.
The target stakeholder that we have identified is Dean Cairo. As the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dean Cairo holds a hierarchical position over the faculty. In addition, we chose him over Dean Bryan due to accessibility and his frequent interactions with students. Dean Cairo has responsibility over faculty and students, which puts him in a position that could understand both sides of this issue. Secondary stakeholders we have addressed are Ashley Hinton-Moncer, Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Katzarska-Miller as Chair of the IRB, and Dr. Packard, as a member of the subcommittee for Faculty & Staff Involvement on the Coalition on Violence Prevention. We have contacted these different individuals to set up meetings, and are excited about the prospects.
As far as the materials and strategies we plan to implement for our action project, we’re currently framing them based on our different stakeholders as we move forward. Our idea is to take resources that we gain from these different individuals and combine them for our culminating meeting with Dean Cairo. With Dr. Katzarska-Miller, we are trying to implement our evaluation for the end of each semester through the IRB, so she could assist in the development of this as we plan to present the material to Dean Cairo. In addition, she can provide us with different resources regarding research on the matter. After meeting with Ashley Hinton-Moncer, we plan to review the training materials for faculty that she presents and analyze them further on our own, as well as with her, in order to then present these materials. We have also considered inviting her to our meeting with Dean Cairo, if all parties feel it is appropriate. We hope to get information regarding what the subcommittee on Faculty & Staff Involvement are already discussing and planning from Dr. Packard, as to combine our efforts in a strengthening way. Ultimately, we want to present different background research that we have been gathering regarding other universities’ practices, as well as guides for potential change in our final stakeholder meeting.
Our next steps are mostly to meet with all of our stakeholders and have these discussions in order to move forward. We feel that we are in a good place right now, as we have most of these meetings already set up and occurring over the next few days. We hope to gain additional resources from these meetings in order to back up our project. In addition, we will continue research about our issue in order to best support our arguments and endeavors. We plan on looking more into the Center for Teaching & Learning realm of things, and potentially reaching out to Dr. Fortner to address ways to implement these resources through the grant Transy received.
Our first concern currently is with the evaluation component of our project, and how we can create something that is sustained. We feel that those in power might be misunderstanding what we want this to look like, and promoting the idea of us doing a more individualized research project. We hope to bridge these gaps, and show the need for a university sponsored evaluation of this issue. Another concern we have lies with proving how this is an issue in the first place for our campus. Content warnings have at times been seen as “unnecessary” to the academic experience, with the ideas of a genuine reaction to the material being promoted. We are having a hard time gathering research as to why these warnings are necessary, and though we have strong personal feelings, we want to present this issue in the most informed manner.