Senior Apartment residents receive SVP training

Senior Apartment residents were contacted a few weeks ago by their CA, Nicole Petherbridge `20, who provided sign-ups for mandatory Sexual Violence Prevention (SVP) sessions to be held in the building’s common room. These seniors, who had taken SVP sessions during their first and second years, as all Colby students do, had originally been under the impression that the meetings would end after sophomore year.

“I didn’t expect it, but as a senior living in the apartments, I am very much aware that there’s a lot of partying going on,” Rob Dettmann `20 said. “There’s situations that could yield potential ‘SVP-like’ scenarios. So, I do think it’s important as gatekeepers that we are pressured to be responsible when we are hosting[…]I am a busy man, and it was another hour that I could have been doing something else, but at the same time I realize that it’s an important issue that should be brought up.”

The sessions for apartment residents are a new implementation by the SVP team as of this year. In the email, the stated purpose of the meeting was “to facilitate small-group discussion on how we can make our home a safe place for everyone on campus. These trainings will help us continue to take responsibility for what takes place in our home.”

The meetings were specifically tailored for those who live in the apartments and are thought to have a responsibility in facilitating a safe space for weekend partygoers.

In practice, the one-time meetings generally did not take the full hour they were scheduled for. Members of SVP sat down with up to nine apartment residents in an informal circle and presented them with a scenario involving an interaction between two students. The interaction involved perspectives from each side in which the circumstances were not clear cut; one person was far more comfortable with the interaction than the other, and varying levels of drunkenness had a part to play.

Seniors were asked whether or not they thought the hypothetical interaction was consensual, and were also tasked with making observations on where bystanders could have intervened, or where the person involved could have checked in on their romantic interest. The question was then posed to seniors asking for ideas to create a more inclusive environment within their apartments.

This query was met with some confusion by seniors, who wanted to ensure that having an exclusive party that they did not wish to open to the general public was still acceptable. The meeting concluded with a refresher on how to work through the Title IX reporting process.

In reflecting on the session, Dettmann added, “I didn’t think it was going to be as casual as it was. I thought it would have been more lecture-y, but I actually appreciated the discussion aspect of it, because it’s more engaging when you’re participating in the conversation.”

The Echo spoke with Suzanne Singer `20, an SVP peer educator involved in the discussions to bring these sessions to fruition. She explained that this idea was the product of weeklong training sessions that SVP members partake in before classes start for the year. 

“Until this year, it was limited to just freshmen and sophomores getting these mandatory sessions, and we really can’t force anyone else to attend sessions past [those years] because it’s too much of a time commitment, but we thought that because a lot of partying happens in the apartments—I think it was brought up around two years ago—that we should have a specifically designed, hour long session just for students who live in the apartments.” 

She continued, addressing the hesitant students in resuming SVP meetings. “I mean, people never want to go to these sessions, even freshman year, people have work and extracurricular activities, but we think it’s a really important conversation to continue past freshman and sophomore year[…]these issues are not just limited to affecting freshmen and sophomores.”