As part of returning to campus for Point Loma Nazarene University’s 2022-23 academic school year, all undergrad students were sent bystander training to their PLNU emails to address sexual assault and other Title IX issues such as discrimination based upon sex.
The push to implement this training originated from PLNU’s Student Senate after a meeting with Title IX coordinator Danielle Friberg. Former senator, sophomore political science major, Amelia Tsering was at that meeting when she was a first year.
Tsering said she was shocked by what she learned and felt a need for others to know as well.
“There were only four freshmen senators and we were all like, ‘Wow, we did not talk about this at New Student Orientation,” said Tsering. “The result of that Title IX meeting was us talking about ways that we can do better for this next class.”
According to Friberg, the training sent out via email this year was completed by all freshmen and transfer students, as they were able to check that status through New Student Orientation.
Friberg stepped into this newly created role, previously part of the vice president’s duties, of Title IX coordinator in the fall of 2021.
She said she hopes to make strides in spurring the conversation on campus.
“I think as a campus, that is a place we need to start at. Do we talk about sex, do we talk about consent, and do we talk enough about alcohol consumption? And what happens when you combine all three of those things.”
While PLNU’s Personal Conduct states that students are expected to abstain from sexual intimacy outside of marriage, a subsection of the conduct reserved for Title IX procedures, says that sexual discrimination, harrassment, violence, exploitation, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking take place at PLNU.
Former senate member Ferni Morales advocated for the bystander training, which informs students on how to address issues of sex discrimination and violence, sent out to undergraduate students this year. Morales wants to encourage students to speak up when they see something concerning.
“I think we are so worried about looking perfect…the little bubble of Point Loma, the privilege it is in itself allows us to think that it is not happening on campus, and it allows us to forgive a lot of things that really should not be,” Morales says.
Yet this guise of safety is not only due to sentiments of a small school, but the statistics that insinuate PLNU is an anomaly among college campuses across the nation. According to the 2021 PLNU Annual Public Safety Report, from the years 2018-2020 there has been one reported instance of sexual assault, back in 2018.
Yet these statistics do not include off campus incidents.
“[For] most students that I have worked with in the last two years who have experienced sexual assault, domestic or dating violence, or stalking, it is not happening on our campus. We do not release those statistics,” Friberg said.
Friberg notes the complexity of releasing data includes the protection of students’ privacy.
“I feel like people have to be more aware of what is happening on campus… I feel like there is much more that needs to be done,” Morales said.
To make students more aware and involved with Title IX’s mission, Morales envisions a student board to work alongside the Title IX coordinator on these issues.
Friberg has a similar sentiment on the issue. Her goal is to engage students and work with them more in the upcoming years.
For more information on Title IX, you can visit their website here.