By Jonathan Edmondson
Earlier this month, TCNJ Anti-Violence Initiatives sent out a campus-wide email discussing a new program called “Every Choice.” In that email, the mandatory training was described: “During the program, you can expect to learn more about power-based personal violence and how to safely and effectively intervene in situations where violence may occur in an interactive and thoughtful curriculum.”
The interactive, 90-minute program must be completed by all students at the College by Thursday, Oct. 1. A few days after receiving the email, I sat down to complete the training, which had three major components: physical violence, sexual abuse and stalking.
For those of you who have not completed the program yet, the training features video testimonials, staged scenarios and quizzes to help educate students. When I first learned that the College was implementing this mandatory program, I was extremely excited. However, upon completion of the course, I was outraged and sent the following email to AVI.
“To Whom it May Concern —
First, I wanted to say that I’m very happy that this type of program is being required for students on campus. This is such an important issue that students absolutely need to be educated on.
However, upon completion of the program, I am so upset with the lack of male representation in the video. Not a single testimonial featured a story about a male being a survivor of rape, stalking or violence. Men’s struggles were merely mentioned in passing.
I know you do not make up the program. I applaud you all for doing such great work on spreading awareness on campus. And I know women are affected by this type of behavior more, but it happens to men. All the time. I’ve witnessed it myself.
In the future, please consider a program that has a equal representation across gender, sexual orientation and race. It truly baffles me that in a 90-minute program, they could not even feature one male recounting his experience. As a male student who has experienced this type of behavior first hand, it is very frustrating.”
A few weeks have gone by and I have not received a reply from anyone over at AVI. I am disappointed and confused. There’s no reason why there can’t be equal representation in these types of training programs. With a lack of male representation, the message is being sent that either, one, men don’t experience abuse, or two, that if they have been abused, they are in the minority and do not matter.
I am proud of the steps the College is taking to raise awareness over such important issues. However, in the future, I sincerely hope a different, more diverse program is selected and that students’ concerns are addressed instead of ignored.
Students share opinions around campus
“My freshman year the library did a pass-fail class (IDS 102) and they could look into doing something like that … It should focus on male sexual assault more, which is something they should address in the future.”
“I feel like sexual assault shouldn’t be happening anymore. I don’t want to be sexist, but it does happen to women more. It’s baffling that it’s still happens though.”