More than 30,000 students, faculty and staff have received prevention training since April 30th as MSU redoubles efforts to combat relationship violence and sexual misconduct through revised and expanded prevention programs. Kelly Schweda is director of the Prevention Outreach and Education Department (POE) at Michigan State University.
“MSU had a lot more prevention needs than we were able really to resource,” says Schweda. “So we looked at what exactly we wanted it to look like and we wanted to cast a very wide net and include lots of different levels. In the past since 2008 we have really focused our prevention efforts on incoming freshmen and incoming students. And we still have that program, but now we've expanded quite a bit and we have now six prevention specialists and they all have an area of expertise.
Michigan State now requires that all first and second year students attend in person prevention and bystander intervention training.
“Well we are actually doing a lot,” adds Schweda. “Michigan State University really is exceeding best practice and really looking at what all we need to do to engage. Currently we have specialists who have all different areas of expertise. So instead of having one staff person who is spread very thin in a lot of different areas, each staff member can really focus on specific programming.”
Lemoine Joseph is the male engagement specialist at POE, and Mariah Sloat is the graduate outreach and prevention specialist.
“So for me I work primarily with our athletics programming,” says Joseph. “Mariah and I actually split it so I work with the men's teams, and she works with the women’s teams. Additionally I work with fraternity and sorority populations here and try to bring speakers on to campus in order to get them talking about conversations related to sexual misconduct and relationship violence.
“I identify as a cisgender black man. There are not many cisgender black men engaging in this work and I think it's really important to not only be a part of these conversations but also have leadership positions in these conversations, right? Because we're talking about culture change. I work with a lot of fantastic women in our office. There are a lot of fantastic women who are leading the change. But in order for us to have a culture change not only in MSU but in our society we really do need to have more men engaging in this work and leading these conversations. And that's why I think it's important for me to get involved in this work and de-stigmatize this conversation for men so they feel open and comfortable in creating a culture shift within spaces that largely identify as male or masculine spaces.
“So what I really love about working with the POE department is that we're really intentional about reaching the entire campus community and we know that in order to end sexual violence and relationship violence it has to be a culture shift,” says Sloat.
“So we're not just focusing on one population we're really trying to reach all populations and that's why in my position specifically I'm focusing on graduate student outreach. We also have a program specialist focused on faculty and staff and we partner a lot on addressing department level specific needs. So we'll go in and do a training that's specifically for a department. So again we're really trying to shift the culture about these issues and educate everyone at a higher level than just reaching one population of people.“
The Prevention Outreach and Education Office promotes safety and improves quality of life by educating members of the MSU campus community on sexual assault and relationship violence, eliminating violence on campus, empowering staff, faculty and students to become advocates for a non violent community and positively affecting social change. Learn more or get involved at poe.msu.edu.
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