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How Can Post-Secondary Institutions Respond to Critical Incidents of Sexual Violence on Campus?

Your campus is invited to join Courage to Act members nationwide for the first Courage Challenge of 2024! This January, commit to reading this informative, practical guide. Bonus points for setting up a Responding to Critical Incidents of Sexual Violence Working Group on your campus! 

A TikTok about a string of sexual assaults during orientation goes viral; a faculty member is sexually assaulted in the school library; and an alum posts on Instagram calling out a varsity sports team for sharing nudes of ex-partners amongst team members. Is your institution prepared to act? Do you have a rapid response plan in place? How do you ensure all campus partners are prepared to respond in a coordinated way? 

Unfortunately, until rape culture and all forms of oppression are abolished, sexual violence will continue on campus; it is not a matter of if it will happen but when. Therefore, all campus partners must be prepared and ready to work together. Sexual violence affects the person harmed and the surrounding community. It can have significant institutional risks, including increased distrust among students and employees in the institution’s ability to maintain safety and manage financial and reputational risks. 

Possibility Seeds has created a Responding to Critical Incidents (RCI) workbook to help guide institutional responses to critical incidents of sexual violence at post-secondary institutions (PSIs). Responding to the needs and insights compiled in Phase I of Courage to Act (Khan, Bidgood & Rowe, 2019), this workbook introduces the RCI model for responding to critical incidents of sexual violence. The RCI model provides an example of a team of specialized trauma-informed PSI personnel empowered to make decisions collaboratively, take action, and support the campus community. This model demonstrates how to address harm, reduce risk, and work toward positive outcomes for people affected by sexual violence and the campus community.

With carefully coordinated planning, a PSI can be ready to respond to critical incidents and significantly reduce the harm and further risk to the campus community. This workbook will assist you and your PSI to create a well-planned response to critical incidents and detail the steps to take before, during, and after a critical incident. Recognizing every post-secondary community is unique, with different resources and systems of care, we envision key campus stakeholders coming together to use our reflection questions to create their unique plans to address critical incidents of sexual violence.

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