Washington (NNS) -- Thomas B. Modly, Acting Secretary of the Navy, along with Garnett S. Stokes, President of the University of New Mexico delivered remarks Feb. 6 to open discussions at the Regional Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s Colleges, Universities and Service Academies conference at the University of New Mexico.
The DoN-UNM hosted regional discussion allowed leaders and experts at public, private, and government-run educational institutions to share best practices and develop strategies to reduce sexual assault, sexual harassment, and related undesirable behavior in America’s education system.
“Collaborative opportunities like this bring us together for meaningful discussions and inspire community-level action to change the culture and win this fight,” said Modly. “It’s encouraging to me that our institutions of higher learning are joining together to talk about the well-being of our people. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other destructive behaviors threaten the dignity and capability of the people who stand at the core of our institutions. No one should ever have to fight for basic dignity in the course of pursuing an education, researching the next breakthrough, or serving their country.”
As part of an ongoing series of discussions, speakers and panelists focused their messages around the topics of prevention programs, and why data and analytics collections should be vital to prevention efforts.
“With this regional discussion, we are continuing the momentum we have created with the leaders of colleges and universities, those who share our commitment to end sexual assault and sexual harassment on our nation's campuses, military service academies and within our communities,” said Melissa Cohen, Director, Department of the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. “Through this dialogue, we can learn from each other and work together to eliminate these criminal and destructive behaviors from the military and in society."
The work of the Department of the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (DON-SAPRO) has four Lines of Effort, one of which is to partner with colleges and universities -- collaborating with educational institutions in research and development of best practices.
Throughout the conference, notable university and DoN leaders including Dr. Elizabeth Hillman, President of Mills College, and John Kroger, DoN Chief Learning Officer, shared their thoughts on how to promote a culture of change. Other university leaders and subject matter experts shared the challenges and successes they have faced in enacting effective policies despite unique challenges within their environments.
Also in attendance was Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black.
“I know that the leaders from colleges and universities joining us in this important regional discussion are equally determined to address these issues,” said Modly. “We must stand together and learn from each other, as we share a common commitment to end this threat."
All five Military Service Academies -- United States Naval Academy, United States Military Academy, United States Air Force Academy, United States Coast Guard Academy, and United States Merchant Marine Academy -- have Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs or offices on campus, which aim to prevent and respond to sexual assault; eliminating it from the ranks through a balance of focused education, comprehensive response, compassionate advocacy, and just adjudication in order to promote professionalism, respect, and trust, while preserving mission readiness.
As military and civilian educational institutions continue to fight against sexual violence, data becomes increasingly vital to changing the culture, and DoN and Military Service Academies’ leadership are committed to working with civilian institutions to identify promising solutions for effective sexual assault prevention.
“I am inspired by how [the statement of commitment that University of New Mexico and other colleges and universities signed just less than a year ago at the national discussion] has turned into a loudspeaker for students, for service members, and for civilian employees to hear that, together, the DoD and educational institutions will be relentless in combatting sexual assault and sexual harassment,” said Cohen.
The DoN-UNM regional conference is designed to sustain an ongoing dialogue to eradicate Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s Colleges, Universities and Service Academies. Last April the United States Naval Academy hosted the National Discussion and in September the State University of New York Regional Discussion took place in New York City.
The next discussion will be hosted by the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, in April.
For more information about the 2020 Regional Discussion on Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment, visit https://navylive.dodlive.mil/2020/02/05/regional-discussion-on-sexual-assault-and-sexual-harassment/
For more news from Secretary of the Navy, visit http://www.navy.mil/secnav/index.asp