Koestner, Baxter Speak with SCIAC Student-Athletes on Sexual Assault Misconduct

Koestner, Baxter Speak with SCIAC Student-Athletes on Sexual Assault Misconduct

On Sunday, September 30, and Monday, October 1, the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) sponsored a sexual assault misconduct educational workshop for SCIAC student-athletes, coaches and administrators on three campuses.

The workshop, which was held Sunday evening on the campuses of Whittier and Pomona-Pitzer, and on the campus of Occidental on Monday, featured keynote speakers Katie Koestner and Gordon Baxter

Koestner is an author, activist and educator around technology, safety and healthy relationships. Having appeared on the cover of TIME Magazine, the Oprah Winfrey Show and other national TV shows, she has been an educator to raise awareness about the violence against women. She has testified on Capitol Hill which was instrumental in the passage federal student safety legislation. 

Koestner, who addressed over 1,000 SCIAC student-athletes over the course of the two days, shared her personal story, weaving in key topics such as: 

  • The role of alcohol and drugs as the impact the ability to give legal consent.
  • The prevalence of sexual assault among women and men in the college environment.
  • Ways that students can reduce their own risk for sexual assault.
  • Ways that students can be proactive bystanders in their community and intervene in potentially risky situations.
  • Characteristics of abusive relationships.
  • Characteristics of healthy relationships.
  • How to communicate limits and boundaries.
  • How to get out of a risky situation.
  • What steps to take if you or a friend has been victimized.
  • How to report sexual assault.
  • How to obtain medical attention and psychological support.
  • Ways that each member of a community, regardless of gender, race, religion, or any other "difference" can make a difference in creating a positive, respectful community.

The second part of the programming featured an interactive case study that was presented by Baxter, a graduate of the University of Virginia with a Master's degree in Education from Harvard. He began his work in sexual violence prevention as a peer educator in an all-male, anti-violence group at the University of Virginia as an undergraduate. Upon Gordon's graduation, Koestner invited him to join her as a presenter on the topic of sexual violence prevention. He has gone on to present to over 100 secondary schools, colleges, universities, community organizations, and military institutions throughout the country. From 2005 to 2009, Gordon was the Prevention Specialist at Harvard University's Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response and helped implement the school's violence prevention policies.

Through Baxter's case study presentation, the student-athletes were given the opportunity to understand how alcohol impacts decision making abilities when it comes to relationships and romantic encounters. Other outcomes of the case study included:

  • Ninety percent of sexual assaults in college involve alcohol or some other drug.
  • What constitutes consent under the law in sexual relationships, including statutory sexual assault.
  • Bystander intervention skills.
  • How to intervene and be more proactive in social settings when they see their friends in vulnerable situations.
  • How to clearly communicate with their partner about their expectations and boundaries.
  • How a positive self-esteem helps to reduce risk.
  • How to help a friend or relative who has been sexually assaulted.

The coaches and administrators workshop, titled Play to Win Off the Court: Navigating the Legal Landscape on Sexual Misconduct Topic: Best Practices for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response, was an informative session that answered the following questions:

1. What constitutes "actual notice" in terms of what MUST be reported under Title IX for coaches; including online interactions, over-heard conversations, third party reports and rumors?

2. What is the difference between an abusive relationship (dating violence) and "heated arguments" for the sake of reporting and intervention with players?

3. What are the causes of action that would create potential PERSONAL liability for coaches so that they could be named in a lawsuit by a plaintiff?

4. Should coaches consider having Professional Liability Insurance? What does it cover and how much is it?

5. Can a head coach be held accountable for what his/her assistant coaches do?

6. What is the amount of alcohol that would render someone "incapacitated" and unable to give a valid consent to sexual contact under law and school policy?

7. What are signs and symptoms of abuse and victimization?

8. What are ways that work best according to research to educate and empower bystander skills in student-athletes? And, are there different techniques for male versus female student-athletes?

9. What does research show are "warning signs" for someone to be more likely to commit rape or abuse in a relationship?