By Zach Joachim
RICHMOND – Virginia Commonwealth University’s athletics department is seeking to ensure that student-athletes are aware of its resources to prevent and report sexual assault and misconduct in light of the Larry Nassar trial and related congressional inquiries.
Capital News Service
Nassar, a former sports physician at Michigan State University and for USA Gymnastics, is facing multiple sentences totaling more than 100 years in federal prison after decades of sexual abuse.
Three congressional inquiries targeting Michigan State, USA Gymnastics, and the U.S. Olympic Committee are underway to determine if they ignored or enabled Nassar’s crimes. Michigan State’s Athletic Department is also under NCAA investigation, which has prompted athletic departments in universities nationwide to reevaluate their sexual assault policies.
In a report released last week, VCU Athletics said its program works closely with the university to maintain a culture conducive to reporting sexual assault or misconduct and raising awareness of their prevalence. The department conducts annual education, training, and workshops, and brings in guest speakers for student-athletes.
We take pride in working with our Office of Equity and Access Services and VCU Police to create a culture that does not tolerate sexual assault, harassment, or gender discrimination (said VCU Vice President and Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin). We are fortunate to have such wonderful resources on our campus to educate our student-athletes.
The department has actively participated in the It’s On Us movement, a national campaign against sexual assault on college campuses. As part of the initiative, VCU Athletics has hosted an assortment of events aimed at educating students and staff on the university’s protocol for handling instances of sexual misconduct.
For instance, Scott Lewis of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management spent a day with VCU Athletics during the fall semester, providing sexual assault education training for all staff and student-athletes.
The department has also collaborated with The Wellness Resource Center at VCU to provide two training workshops for student-athletes—the One Love Escalation workshop, which aims to educate athletes on the signs of relationship abuse, as well as a consent workshop.
We take pride in knowing that we are leaders on our campus in creating a safe and supportive culture for all students (McLaughlin said).
These resources available to athletes are in addition to existing sexual assault training requirements. All VCU students and employees are required to complete Not Anymore training, an online module that shares the university’s policies, reporting options, and resources through real stories told by survivors.
The VCU Title IX office said the number of reports it receives has grown significantly over the last two years, signaling greater awareness of the university’s resources.
Units such as Athletics and the Office of the Provost conduct additional education for faculty and staff in these key areas (the Title IX office said in a statement). We are a bystander-engaged community where we care and look out for one another and a broad culture of reporting, where people who see something say something.
Additional information and resources can be found on the VCU Title IX website.