SGA fails to provide promised mandatory sexual violence training


Instead of promised mandatory ClubSigner sexual violence training, SGA will offer smaller trainings this semester, according to junior Ann Wong, chair of the SGA club affairs committee.

These changes directly respond to last semester’s Nov. 16 training, which ClubSigners found difficult, Wong said. Many ClubSigners believed the training didn’t address the correct issues that it needed to. 

“I feel like they scheduled the [training] last semester, got it done, checked it off their list and that was it,” said senior Natalie Johnson, former president of the Outing Club.

Last fall, ClubSigners received an email from Wong on Sept. 27, 2021, announcing the mandatory training on Oct. 14, 2021.

A few months later, the fall 2021 SGA newsletter stated their plans for next semester’s training.

“We […] hosted the first-ever sexual violence prevention training for all ClubSigners and are hosting one again next semester,” the Dec. 13 SGA fall 2021 newsletter stated.

After last semester’s training, SGA asked Elliot Ruggles, sexual violence prevention and education coordinator, to perform a Q&A for ClubSigners to attend and have conversations,  Wong said. 

The Q&A is currently scheduled for April 28 and will provide ClubSigners an opportunity to send in questions. Instead of all the ClubSigners attending this event, it will be a smaller group of 50-70 people, Wong said. 

The event will take place 6-7 p.m. in Brennan’s Pub and spots to attend will be exclusively reserved for ClubSigners and leaders, according to an April 13 email from SGA’s Club Affairs Committee to ClubSigners.

Wong believes Ruggles, as a speaker from the UVM community, will make asking questions and understanding specific issues ClubSigners look for easier, she said.

Active Minds President Emma Von Licht, a sophomore, trusts Ruggles would be more helpful than last semester’s training, as he specializes in this topic and understands the problems the school faces.  

The Q&A is the only confirmed event SGA has planned, but Wong said more events are in the works. This offering is separate from the plans several SGA senators have for sexual violence awareness month.

“I definitely think that there’ll be more sessions,” Wong said. “We’re starting off with one to gauge what the response is.” 

Ruggles also plans to offer one-on-one conversations with club leaders, separate from their open-to-all office hours. This would give any ClubSigners the space to discuss their more specific problems or questions that they may have, Wong said.

Additionally, SGA plans on having representatives from HOPEWorks hold a guided discussion with students, which would be separate from the lecture session with Ruggles, Wong said.

HOPEWorks is a Vermont-based non-profit that gives counseling to those who have been impacted by sexual violence. They also have an education outreach system that teaches others about sexual violence, according to their website

HOPEWorks has a partnership with UVM, providing on-campus appointments and a 24/7 hotline at (802) 863-1236, according to UVM’s website.  

Wong feels confident this could happen by the end of the month. 

Despite Wong’s optimism, some ClubSigners worry these promised events won’t happen before the semester ends.

“I think at a certain point it’s gonna lose momentum because it’s not going to become as prevalent [as] last year when everyone was protesting and was very vocal about it,” Von Licht said.

These opportunities are optional unlike the mandatory training last semester due to the logistics of Ruggles’ availability and the coordination of a session for 500 people, Wong said.

“I think optional versus mandatory isn’t really a big factor anymore,” said UVM Beekeepers President Matt Heilbron, a senior. “We’ve had one training already where we were all required to go and then sat there for two hours and really got nothing out of it.”