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Middle Tennessee State U. Engaging Males in Sexual Assault Prevention

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. ― Middle Tennessee State University is starting a program that aims to reduce the possibility of sexual assaults on campus by training male students.

The Daily News Journal reports that student orientation at the Murfreesboro university already had a section advising students about ways to avoid sexual assault, including teaching safety tips such as avoiding traveling alone and staying in well-lit, populated areas.

Now the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students will sponsor training focused on engaging male students in the discussion about preventing sexual assault.

Jimmy Hart, director for news and media relations for MTSU, says housing staff, athletics personnel and others are also going through training that looks at issues such as “what is consent” and how to report and respond to sexual assaults.

Housing staff will be putting up posters adapted from the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence that address sexual assault prevention, Hart said. The “Better Man” posters call attention to the importance of consent and self-control.

Kim Reynolds, a counselor for the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program in Murfreesboro, supports educating men—who are most often charged with sexual crimes—about their role in changing the culture surrounding sexual attacks.

“It’s imperative,” Reynolds said. “It’s the only way that we’re going to slow down the violence. … We spend so much time telling our victims how not to get raped, and we don’t spend enough time telling potential perpetrators not to rape people.”

Reynolds pointed out that both men and women can be victims of sexual assault, and rape can still occur in romantic relationships. Clear consent is required for any sexual activity.

“If somebody says, ‘I’m so drunk,’ that’s a no,” Reynolds said. “The only time it’s a ‘yes’ is if she says ‘okay.’ … Offenders are not always aware that what they’re doing is considered sexual assault.”

The university is instituting a new training module that employees will be required to take regarding sexual assault prevention.

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