Monday, February 24, 2014

Fostering Cooperation between the Military and Universities

By Rear Adm. Sean Buck
Director, 21st Century Sailor Office

The U.S. military and university systems have a number of things in common – one of which includes a considerable portion of our respective populations being 18-24 year olds. This is an age demographic where sexual assault is of special concern and education can make a significant, positive impact.

I just completed a visit to Rice University in Houston, Texas, and last month visited the University of San Diego. In both places, I sat down with each school’s respective sexual assault prevention and response staff and compared the various programs of each organization to those of our Navy.

Many schools have a Title IX coordinator, a person who is responsible for monitoring and overseeing the university’s compliance with Title IX. He or she also is in charge of the prevention of sexual harassment and discrimination, including the coordination of education and training activities and the response to Title IX complaints. This is much the same job that I, as the director of the 21st Century Sailor Office, hold.

The university systems also have staffs who care for sexual assault victims in much the same way as our Navy’s sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates. In both university and military settings, these advocates provide vital support as they reach out to and assist victims with their emotional and physical needs after an assault.

Since we, the military, share many similarities with university systems with regards to sexual assault prevention and response, it makes sense to join forces. We can strategize, share best practices and lessons learned, and dialogue constantly with one another.

It’s imperative for the military to share best practices with universities, and vice versa, to share with those who are tackling some of the same issues pertaining to sexual assault prevention and response. Together we can care for victims and refine the services, education, training and opportunities for Sailors and students alike. Together, we have an opportunity to reduce the number of sexual assaults in our country.

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