The Board of Visitor’s Committee on Student Affairs met Thursday afternoon. Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler shared an update on the College’s Task Force on Preventing Sexual Assault and Harassment.
“I wanted to give you a brief update on where we are and also to highlight that this issue continues to be in the forefront of the national dialogue both in higher [education] and in our society at large,” Ambler said.
Ambler described the task force as dedicated. It meets monthly and discusses issues in subcommittees. She went on to highlight several initiatives on campus related to sexual assault.
Last Monday, the College ended the National Sexual Misconduct Survey – developed by the National Student Conduct Officers Association – with a 31 percent response rate. The data is just beginning to be assessed, and Ambler hopes to be able to have more information about the campus climate and sexual assault by the committee’s next meeting.
Now, it is beginning to review that feedback. Ambler also discussed two successful panel discussions on the topic of sexual assault held by the Women in Law Society and the task force, respectively.
Ambler also highlighted the Haven, a new space in the Campus Center dedicated to supporting and answering questions for students who have concerns about sexual violence. She emphasized that the Haven offers confidentiality, which makes it one of a few centers on campus to offer confidential reporting. The other two centers are the Counseling Center and the Health Center.
Ambler also mentioned HOPE’s Red Flag Campaign and the It’s On Us Campaign, launched by the White House to emphasize bystander education. Mallory Tucker ’15 and President of the Student Assembly Colin Danly ’15 have attended two meetings at the White House to discuss the campaign with other students.
“I really appreciate our students coming back and saying it’s a great idea, and that bystander intervention is important, but we need a message that suits our campus, that speaks to our community, who we are, and will send a William and Mary message that will be heard and received the way we want it to be,” Ambler said.
Ambler also shared the recently released “One Tribe, One Family” video made by Katherine Ambrose ’17 with the Board of Visitors.
Board of Visitors representatives Megan Brew ’15 and Peter Rechter J.D. ’16 discussed student leadership at the College. They highlighted the social change model of student leadership, which emphasizes the importance of leadership of all members of an organization rather than just relying on the leadership of members with titles.
“The crux of this social change model is not relying on not necessarily positional leadership, but incorporating everyone in leadership decision making. … It’s not necessarily the power of a few, but instead all the members of an organization,” Brew said.
Rechter explained that under the social change model, leadership is more of an action than a title.
Brew and Rechter shared several ways in which the College is applying this social change model to student leadership, including the No Title Needed initiative, Authentic Excellence initiative and SECon, a social entrepreneurship conference.
Overall, Brew and Rechter emphasized the benefits of the social change model can bestow upon students.
“Firstly, you will see your non-positional leaders empowered to take ownership over things they might have otherwise deferred to their positional leaders,” Rechter said. “Secondly, you will see our organizational leaders learn best practices about how to set that aspirational tone and cultivate the intra-organizational community that really inspires members to take action.”
Brew and Rechter suggested increased partnership with the Career Center to offer programming to educate students about harnessing leadership skills. They stated that employers recruit students with tangible leadership experience and strong leadership abilities. . They also recommended developing a partnership with academic advisors to educate new students about balancing their values and extracurricular activities.