By Midshipman 2nd Class Shelby N. Smith University of Virginia NROTC
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NNS) -- The University of Virginia (UVA) Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) unit hosted an event here March 21 in an attempt to take a lead in promoting bystander intervention on campus in order to prevent incidents of sexual assault.
In response to dialogue at a conference in February entitled - UVA: Sexual Misconduct Amongst College Students, UVA NROTC hoped its event would motivate active bystanders and raise awareness of preventing sexual assaults.
The February conference ended with a focus on a need to change the culture that fuels sexual misconduct.
"UVA NROTC's role is one step in changing that culture - one small step in one giant movement," said Capt. Mike Cashman, commanding officer of the unit and professor of Naval science.
The midshipmen's event was a revival of a movement called the "Hand Print Project at the University of Virginia," which focuses primarily on preventing sexual assault among college fraternities and sororities.
According to Cashman, bystander intervention is an approach to sexual violence prevention relying on many and their dedicated efforts to be proactive when witnessing an incident.
Many at the event signed a pledge stating, "I pledge to be an active bystander and stop incidents of sexual assault." Cashman called it a short statement with a powerful message.
"It calls for personal involvement of individuals who sign," he said.
The Dean of Students at University of Virginia, Dr. Allen Groves, also added remarks about the importance of bystander intervention for the UVA community.
By signing the pledge and participating in a host of fun activities at the event, UVA NROTC conveyed the importance of bystander intervention while providing a celebration for every individual's own personal involvement in preventing incidents of sexual assault.
"I believe UVA NROTC showed that the United States Navy is also taking a lead to make a difference, specifically in preventing incidents of sexual assault," said Cashman.
The NROTC program, is overseen by, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) headquartered on Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. The program was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values in order to commission college graduates as Naval officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the Naval service and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government. There are NROTC units at more than 160 colleges and universities across the nation.
NSTC also oversees the Officer Training Command at Naval Station Newport, R. I., and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide. NSTC is also ultimately in charge of Recruit Training Command, the Navy's only boot camp, also located on Naval Station Great Lakes.