Laura Miller, Sarah Hofkamp and Zach Zimmerman, all seniors, are determined to make Goshen College a safe community for everyone – no exceptions.
This summer, as Maple Scholars, Miller, Hofkamp and Zimmerman teamed up with Beth Martin Birky, a professor of English and women and gender studies, and Kendra Yoder, a professor of social work, to improve Goshen’s Prevention Intervention Network. PIN is a student group that aims to empower bystanders to intervene and stop sexual assault, harassment and rape.
“[PIN] wants to expand,” said Yoder, the faculty advisor of PIN. “We want to have a 100 percent trained student body and also faculty and staff. There’s a lot of talk about reaching out to other institutions of education, like high schools…. We’re still figuring out how to institutionalize it.”
The improvements to the program were made possible through funding by Maple Scholars, Student Life, a local chapter of the American Association of University Women and several academic departments.
For the second consecutive year, PIN gave presentations in every Identity, Culture and Community class, reaching all first-year students. PIN also plans to expand the program around the city of Goshen and into other communities as the academic year progresses.
A youth group at a local church, Silverwood Mennonite, will be trained in the “Bringing in the Bystander” program, a two- to four-hour class on how to prevent and stop sexual violence. Southside Fellowship’s entire congregation will hear the presentation as well. PIN has also been in contact with Hesston College to help them create their own Prevention Intervention Network, though lack of funds has put that on hold for the time being.
“[Through PIN training] we are coming together as a community,” Miller said, “and deciding how we want to interact with each other… how we’re going to have each other’s backs and keep each other safe.”
As Maple Scholars, Miller, Hofkamp and Zimmerman worked to make Goshen College’s Title IX policy as accessible as possible. The students helped clarify which faculty members are “mandatory reporters” – those who would have to report any abuse for investigation – and which are not.
All faculty members who are not a licensed counselor, an on-campus pastor or the faculty advocate must report any sexual violence. Martin Birky, as faculty advocate for students who have experienced sexual or interpersonal violence, provides sexual assault survivors with the resources and advice without having to report the abuse. Martin Birky has held the position of faculty advocate since 2015.
Other off campus resources area available, such as Elkhart County’s YWCA, the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Victim Assistance Services for the Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.
Due to a request made by Launa Leftwich, dean of students, Miller, Hofkamp, and Zimmerman worked alongside Martin Birky to develop a new way to report sexual harassment and assault. Students can now report sexual assault online, and are given multiple options in terms of response: an anonymous report for those who aren’t comfortable disclosing their name, a report for those who want support and no investigation, and a report for those who want an investigation.
Led by Yoder, the group created a manual for Study-Service Terms. Policies were written by students and revised with the help of Yoder. Tom Meyers, director of international education and associate academic dean, also supported the process and gave feedback. The guide will provide tools for students who spend three months abroad. There will also be a formal training for those involved in the spring term of SST in late November or early December.
Other research included changes made in the PIN Bystander Education program for Identity, Culture and Community classes. A second session was added to the program, including scenarios so students can receive concrete skills as bystanders.
Although no concrete plans have been made yet, Martin Birky has applied for the JustPax Fund – a grant, administered by Everence Charitable Services, with the purpose of supporting projects that help address gender-based oppression. Other faculty members such as Yoder, Regina Shands Stoltzfus, a professor of peace, justice and conflict studies, Ken Newbold, provost, Gilberto Perez, director of intercultural development & educational partnerships and Richard Aguirre, director of corporate and foundation relations were also involved in the creation of the grant proposal. The grant would allow PIN educators to also receive anti-racism training, as well as sexual assault prevention training.
Leftwich said, “I really appreciate that the training for PIN is not just limited to sexual misconduct, but it can also be applied in different settings such as racial discrimination and racism. It helps us create a culture that respects individuals for who they are.”
PIN will host events throughout the school year, including a self-care class taught by Shands Stoltzfus and a self-defense workshop. Modified training sessions have been made available to students living off-campus to make sure that all areas of Goshen College are safe.
PIN will also offer trainings during GSWA’s Sexual Violence Awareness Week; the trainings will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27. Four-hour training opportunities will also be offered at different times throughout the year.
Many changes have been made to PIN during the past year, and changes will continue to be made throughout the next year as the program continues to expand and meet community needs.
PIN is currently looking for student leaders and is accepting applications from all students – although first-years are highly encouraged to apply.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified Kendra Yoder as Bob Yoder.