Through an interactive program facilitated by the Office of Gender Violence Prevention and Education, Bowdoin first years and sophomores have the opportunity to participate in a leadership training institute focused on the prevention of and education about sexual violence, dating violence and stalking on campus.
Associate Director of Gender Violence Prevention and Education Lisa Peterson developed a five-session training program last spring. She decided to expand the program to eleven sessions this year based on participant feedback and her own assessments.
The program, which will have 12 participants this year, aims to give students the resources and base knowledge they need to participate in healthy relationships and discussions regarding dating and sexual violence at Bowdoin and beyond. In the fall, the training will be focused on understanding the dynamics of gender violence and in the spring, participants will have the chance to create their own programs related to the prevention of gender violence.
Guest speakers are a vital component of the training, as they provide students with an understanding of violence that takes place off campus which effects a wide range of people. Participants will have the chance to hear from agencies in the local community that help victims of gender violence, such as the Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine and Family Crisis Services.
“This is a good opportunity to broaden their perspective in how gender violence affects people across all ages and location,” Peterson said.
Students who choose to participate in the training will then create a program to present to others on campus, incorporating what they learned and their leadership skills gained. Last year’s participants developed a capstone called “Breaking Down Breaking Up,” a program that helps students think about ending a relationship in a healthy, respectful way.
“What this group’s institute will do is still up for them to decide. Learning how to do prevention work really cements it if folks can then put it into practice and see what it feels like to plan your own program and put it on, said Peterson.
Peterson emphasized that gender violence prevention and education extends beyond the sessions and is about changing the conversation on campus in the ways that students think about sex, dating and relationships. Peterson hopes to change how students interact with these subjects by understanding how to engage with them.
“Creating that culture shift really has to start at the student level and hopefully as many folks feel prepared in having those conversations as possible,” said Peterson.
In addition to the 11-session institute, which will begin on October 16, the Office of Gender Violence Prevention and Education will also sponsor Take Back the Night, a nighttime march to raise awareness about sexual and domestic violence later in October.