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Emma Willard School Partners with Culture of Respect

After learning of past sexual abuse at the 203-year-old school, the school began to review internal policies, protocol and procedures. Experts recommend that schools also engage outside resources in their assessments, and administrators had heard positive things about Culture of Respect’s work.

In 2013, John Fifield and Sandi Haber Fifield were the parents of college-aged students and were “alarmed by the high rate of sexual assault on college campuses and the lack of comprehensive resources for survivors, students, administrators and parents trying to respond to and prevent incidents of campus sexual assault.”

They brought together a team of public health and violence prevention researchers from New York University and Columbia University and experts in the fields of research, prevention education, health support, legal issues, violence prevention, higher education policy, outreach, advocacy, and campus activism to develop the CORE Blueprint and cultureofrespect.org. Culture of Respect is the first organization to bring all of these practices together and make them available in one location. Early founding support for Culture of Respect was provided by countless individuals, Williams College, and a grant from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). Additional support came from Founding Supporters Denison University and Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Core Supporters, Kenyon College, Macalester College, Rochester Institute of Technology and Sewanee, The University of the South.

In 2016, Culture of Respect officially became part of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, allowing Culture of Respect to bring critical programming and a genuine and sustained solution to campus sexual assault to the greatest number of institutions and students. Working with all stakeholders on a comprehensive approach to on-the-ground change, Culture of Respect is leading a cultural shift to eliminate campus sexual violence.

At the heart of Culture of Respect’s programming is the CORE Blueprint, the program’s guiding document. It is designed to engage students, parents, faculty, administrators, health professionals, athletes, and other campus stakeholders in implementing practices and policies that shift the culture to one free from sexual violence.

The six pillars of the CORE Blueprint are:
  • Survivor support with options on reporting
  • Clear policies on misconduct, investigation, adjudication, and sanctions
  • Multi-tiered education for the entire campus
  • Public disclosure of statistics
  • School-wide mobilization with student groups and leaders
  • Ongoing self-assessment
Culture of Respect’s program requires that schools create a Core Leadership Team, undergo an evaluation, create a 60-day action plan, and then re-assess.

Emma Willard School’s Core Leadership Team is made up of 18 members of the Emma community including the head of school, two senior administrators, five faculty members, two health care professionals, six students, one parent and one alumna. Following the Culture of Respect recommendations, the group has started to review language in the community handbook Fine Print to ensure that it reflects best practices surrounding the prevention and reporting of sexual assault.

Those at Emma Willard School look forward to their continued work with Culture of Respect and the school is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of its entire community.
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    • Dean of Students and Wellbeing Shelley Mahar and students present Campus Core Leadership Team findings to the Emma Willard School Board of Trustees during the January Board meeting.

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