Sexual assault on college campuses is a big problem (as is sexual assault in general, while we're at it). Approximately 23 percent of undergraduate females experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation on college campuses. That means women starting college this fall (and every fall) are at risk for coercion and rape by the same men they eat lunch with, sit beside in classrooms, and cheer on in the stadium.
Thankfully, waves of protests have finally forced universities to implement new policies to make college a safer place for everyone—and no, they have nothing to do with limiting how much women drink or telling them to wear longer skirts. (Remember: Tequila doesn't sexually assault people. People sexually assault people.)
Dubbed ProtectHer, the program is geared toward male collegiate athletes and involves a four-part curriculum that includes a few documentaries, followed by guided discussions and activities aimed at reducing sexual assault.
The program understands that students on campus often look up to athletes and view them as trendsetters, which is why the curriculum is designed to teach these men to be responsible with their influence and lead by example. The idea is to create a positive approach that sees young male athletes not as the problem, but as the solution.
"Sexual assault is a symptom of the greater epidemic of toxic male culture that encourages young men to think about, to talk about, and to treat women negatively," said Alexis Jones, author, activist, and founder of the program, in a press release. "ProtectHer was created to change this conversation among athletes and use positive storytelling to empower these powerful campus influencers to be phenomenal men on and off the field."
This new teaching method is a refreshing departure from current sexual assault programs that are geared toward instructing college-bound women how to police themselves for their own protection. They are told where not to go, what not to drink, who not to be alone with, and what not to wear. (Related: What to Do If Someone You Know Has Been Sexually Assaulted)
Colleges like Stanford, University of Southern California, UCLA, University of Washington, Oregon State University, University of Southern Florida, University of California, and Villanova are already planning to include ProtectHer in their upcoming sports season. After gauging its success in college locker rooms, the program will expand into professional locker rooms as well.