The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) has selected Texas A&M University as 2017 Bronze Excellence Award Honoree for the “Step In. Stand Up.” sexual assault awareness campaign and related educational efforts on campus. The association created the Excellence Awards to recognize student affairs practitioners who develop transformative, innovative and data-driven programs at the institutional level.
The campaign asks supporters to “step in” as active bystanders to prevent incidences from occurring and to “stand up” to support survivors. Student leaders and university representatives from across campus collaborated to develop the campaign, which provides an umbrella for all of Texas A&M’s programs, services and initiatives in an effort to create greater public awareness of sexual violence, to engage the university community in dialogue on the subject and to provide support for those affected.
“When we come together to accomplish something, Aggies give it our all and we become a force for positive change,” said Texas A&M President Michael K. Young. “This spirit of togetherness has certainly been reflected in the significant growth of Step In. Stand Up. across our university community.”
More than 50 campus student, faculty and staff groups actively support the campaign, and the university partners with strategic community leaders to extend the message into the surrounding community. Messaging and programming is prominently featured during sporting events, new faculty, staff and student orientations, and a variety of campus-hosted events that take place throughout the year. The university provides promotional items such as T-shirts, flyers, bracelets, posters and pins; advertises on Texas A&M buses, signs and banners; and maintains a website with education and support resources, and a digital tool kit.
“Bringing the issue home to the Texas A&M campus and weaving with our community expectations and core values was important to the various focus groups,” said Dr. Cynthia Hernandez, associate vice president for student affairs at Texas A&M. “The power of this campaign that enables it to succeed at a university with about 65,000 students is a commitment by all to shoulder the responsibility of creating a change in culture.”
Hernandez said that the student affairs staff at Texas A&M has incorporated educational messages about sexual assault to its students for more than 20 years, and campus groups, such as the Sexual Assault Survivors Services Committee (SASS), have shared resources and perspectives to enhance support and education. The SASS Committee was successful in creating smaller campaigns focused on undergraduate survivors of sexual assault, but these early efforts were largely localized to the student population rather than the entire campus community.
Texas A&M leadership sought to go beyond Title IX compliance by committing to changing the conversation and the culture that contributes to incidences of sexual assault and sexual violence, and by providing a national model in higher education to educate and foster awareness of the issue.
In launching the campaign in 2015, Young stated the campaign’s mission: “It’s up to us—students, faculty, staff and the rest of the Aggie community—to step in as active participants to reduce incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence on our campus, and stand up against it by starting courageous conversations and sharing information. What harms even one of us, harms us all.”
NASPA also honored the Department of Student Life Studies at Texas A&M with a Silver Excellence Award for its Assessment Boot Camp, which fosters essential assessment skills and knowledge among staff throughout the Division of Student Affairs. These skills are increasingly important as stakeholders expect more from institutions and question the value higher education plays in students’ abilities to be hired upon graduation.
NASPA works for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession, providing professional development, advocacy and research for 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries and eight U.S. territories.
Texas A&M University Division of Student Affairs
The Division of Student Affairs supports Texas A&M University by providing exceptional services, facilities and programs that promote student success, embody the Aggie spirit, and foster a diverse and inclusive campus community to deepen the understanding and individual application of the Aggie Core Values – Excellence, Integrity, Leadership, Loyalty, Respect and Selfless Service.
Contact: Sondra White, Division of Student Affairs (studentaffairs.tamu.edu) 979-458-3296; firstname.lastname@example.org
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