Season 6 - Episode 614
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month nationally, and Baylor offers resources and programming to educate and serve students on topics like healthy relationships, boundaries, bystander intervention and more. Tracey Tevis serves as education and prevention specialist in Baylor’s Office of Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX. In this Baylor Connections, Tevis takes listeners inside resources, training opportunities and programming to support a healthy and safe campus community throughout the year.
Derek Smith:Hello, and welcome to Baylor Connections, a conversation series with the people shaping our future. Each week we go in depth with Baylor leaders, professors and more, discussing important topics in higher education, research and student life. I'm Derek Smith, and today we are pleased to have Tracy Tevis with us from Baylor's Equity Civil Rights and Title IX office. In that office, Tracy serves as Education and Prevention Specialist. Her primary role consists of training students, faculty and staff on civil rights and Title IX policies. In addition to providing training on policies, Tevis also provides trainings on awareness and preventive measures, including, but not limited to, bystander intervention and healthy relationships. April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month nationally, highlighting programming and resources for Baylor students, faculty and staff that are special to the month, and of course, resources ongoing throughout the year. Tracy, thanks so much for taking the time to join us today.
Tracey Tevis:Yeah, thanks for having me.
Derek Smith:Well, great to visit with you and a good time to highlight work that goes on throughout the year with you and your colleagues, and certainly added attention during this month of April. And as we dive in, I'm curious, topics around this, surrounding sexual assault, certainly can be challenging to discuss in a lot of ways. And as we dive in, this is something that you've interacted with people a lot, and what are some things you've learned through those interactions, engaging with students on ways you do that, that serve, educate, and build our students up?
Tracey Tevis:Yeah, so I think it's very important to meet individuals where they are, so that applies not only to students, but it also applies to faculty, staff, and our campus partners. We all benefit from learning from one another. So, with that, I think creating a safe space for our campus community to dialogue with one another, have earnest conversations, I think that's very important. In addition, I think it's also important to ask the community, what do you want to learn about? What are the topics that interests you? And this could be anywhere from how we set boundaries in relationships, not only romantic relationships, but with our family, our peers, our coworkers, and things like that. It can also range from consent and even healthy and unhealthy characteristics in a relationship.
Derek Smith:Tracy, as you talk about these, it looks like the work you do spills far beyond what I think anyone might even know just seeing your title online. Again, your title is Education and Prevention Specialist. How would you describe that? How would you describe what you do?
Tracey Tevis:I would describe my role at the institution, again, as creating those spaces for individuals to learn more about topics related to both civil rights and Title IX policies. And in creating this space, for example, I'm one of many that assist in the creation and implementation of Set The Standard, our welcome event for all of our incoming students as well as our transfer students. I also assist with our online presence with our Title IX and Courageous Conversation courses and our monthly prevention efforts. I'm a former teacher, so teaching and education is my passion, so again, you're going to hear me say a lot, meeting learners where they are, and this applies to all ages and just assisting with their overall development while they're here with us at Baylor.
Derek Smith:You mentioned that program, Set The Standard, that's a title of a program, but also can be sort of a vision or a rallying cry. What does that mean to you and your colleagues?
Tracey Tevis:Yeah, so at Baylor, we say we set the standard, and I'm going to pull it back to Baylor's mission. At Baylor, we are creating a caring community. And as a caring community, we want to tell our students, our faculty or staff, anyone that comes into our space that we respect one another. And the whole point of Set The Standard is to show, as a caring community, this is what that looks like. However, if something were to happen, you can come to our office and we are going to offer you support, resources, and possible resolutions to help you. We want all of our members at Baylor to feel safe and supported, and we are just one of many offices that assist in that.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Tracy Tevis on Baylor Connections. And Tracy, you have a lot of great colleagues in Baylor's Equity Civil Rights and Title IX office. Your role as education and prevention specialist, how does that fit in, how does that compliment the work taking place throughout your office?
Tracey Tevis:Yeah, I feel like my role fits in at various times. It's important to know that it's not just me doing these things in our office. Every person that's working out of our office assists with our prevention and awareness efforts. It truly takes a village to do the work that we're doing here. So, some of the things we do, we have are awareness and prevention activities. We do these every month of the year, as well as responsive programming, so those are just a few of the things that we do out of the equity office.
Derek Smith:You mentioned creating those spaces where students can engage and talk. You mentioned you're a teacher prior to coming into this role, what do you enjoy most about the opportunity you have to work with students of this age, specifically Baylor students?
Tracey Tevis:Yes, I would say that my heart is in education in any capacity. That can be specifically in the classroom, I taught fourth graders, so nine and 10 year olds, all the way up to college level students. It does not matter.
Tracey Tevis:Just educating individuals is just a passion of mine. So, being able to take a topic and develop a curriculum or learning opportunity is what I find the most joy in. And I have to be creative, so what are our students doing? What are they watching, how can I find new ways to engage this audience? And as we know, this audience is ever-changing, the Baylor population is changing as the years go, so I have to meet them where they are, find ways to connect with them, so I'm able to teach about the different topics that relate to our office and our policies.
Derek Smith:We are visiting with Tracy Tevis, Education and Prevention Specialist in Baylor's Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX office. And Tracy, paint the picture of what it is in the environment in which you work, when we look around the nation, are there statistics that you use when you discuss related topics to sexual assault in general that are important for people to recognize and understand?
Tracey Tevis:Yes, I think it's important to know that sexual assault and sexual misconduct is not confined to colleges and universities. A lot of times in our news and in headlines, you hear about it happening in colleges and universities, which makes it feel siloed, and that's not true at all. It can and does affect multiple individuals at any stage of their lives. So, some statistics that I share with individuals or groups when I am in training are at events is that on a college campus, one in four women and one in six men are going to experience some sort of sexual misconduct by the time they graduate. So, if we are going to compare these two, it's 25% of women and 17% of men. Those statistics are not that far off, but oftentimes you only hear about the women, but these things also are happening to our counterparts. In addition, if we expand that viewpoint, expand that lens, in the United States alone, someone experiences sexual violence every 73 seconds. So, if we think about this, we are all in some form or fashion impacted by sexual violence and sexual conduct. It may not happen directly to us, but we probably all know someone that has been impacted by this. And this and other statistics, for example, can be found at rain.org where they share multiple statistics about how sexual misconduct affects the population at large.
Derek Smith:When you share those stats, I know as we talk about prevention, you're working to lower those numbers, to see those numbers go down and prevention is a very proactive word, so could you take us inside what that looks like? Where might we find you or your outreach across campuses as you work at prevention?
Tracey Tevis:Yeah, so throughout the academic year, I do a variety of different trainings and prevention activities. Each month I try to do some sort of tabling event, so we are usually, and I say we, myself and others out of the equity office, you can usually find us at the BSB, at the SLC or in the SUB where we just set up a table and we'll talk about different things, so for example, in February we had Healthy Relationship Week, so we set up in the BSB and we had donuts. The dos and donuts of healthy relationships. Everyone likes a good donut, right?
Derek Smith:That's good, yeah.
Tracey Tevis:So, in this hour, two hour program that we had, students could come up, they're able to ask us their questions, they get to see our faces, and they get to interact with us, so we gave out small pamphlets that on one side had the 10 healthy characteristics, and on the back it had the unhealthy characteristics, so that's one way that you can catch us across campus. And outside of that, there are other times that I often speak with different departments in engaging students in the learning. In the past, some of the topics that I have talked about are bystander intervention and cultural humility within the classroom space.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Tracy Tevis, and obviously conversation is certainly a big part of it. What are some of the most meaningful tools or resources you've been able to use as you share with students?
Tracey Tevis:Yeah, so as I mentioned earlier, I try to be creative in my prevention efforts. I often speak to our students to see what their interests are and try to find ways to turn their interest into a learning opportunity. So, for example, in the past, I have hosted a program that I call, Will You Accept This Rose? It's open to any individual, but basically what this is, a lot of our students watch the Bachelor or the Bachelorette, so I have taken this TV show and we watched it live, and in between these commercials, we talk about the healthy and unhealthy characteristics that we see in these relationships on this show. We talk about how, as a society, how culture has shifted and what this can mean for individuals. How does this apply to my own relationship? We've also created art projects and small marketing campaigns that students can take with them as a reminder, so for February, when we did Healthy Relationships Week, we had an art project that I called Falling for Yourself. It was a wooden leaf that students could write any characteristic to describe themselves or things they wanted to see in their future, and it was something that they could take with them and hang in their room or have somewhere that could just remind them of the traits that they want to be, things that they can strive for in their future.
Derek Smith:This is Baylor Connections, we are visiting with Tracy Tevis, Education and Prevention Specialist in Baylor's Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office, month of April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month nationally, and there's programming ongoing at Baylor and throughout the nation, bringing awareness to topics surrounding this. And Tracy, you've talked about healthy relationships and helped paint that picture of prevention. I want to ask you about that even a little bit further. If we break down a big topic like this into smaller component parts, what are some of the concepts that you found most beneficial to students in taking ownership of these topics, ways they treat others, the boundaries they set around themselves, really any direction that stands out to you?
Tracey Tevis:Yeah, so I think, again, it's important to focus it back to Baylor's mission. We are a caring community, and as a caring community, we treat one another with care, integrity and respect, and we're going to share how this looks in terms of our office. And it's important to know that we won't always get it right. We all fall short of the grace of God, and there are times where we are going to mess up. But it's important to know that if we cause harm or if we say something inappropriate or in any situation, we need to take ownership of it and we need to learn the skills and techniques to make sure that it doesn't happen again. It's important that we're active listeners, and I always tell our faculty, staff, students, it's important to listen for understanding and not listen for a rebuttal. How can we take in that information and what can we learn from what the individual is telling us for the future?
Derek Smith:How much of a hunger is there for some of this information as you visit with students? You said you're taking it from a punitive approach to very positive, proactive.
Tracey Tevis:Yeah, I think that certain skills or topics that are often sought after from myself or other individuals from our office, one would be consent. What does consent look like? And boundaries. Boundaries is another important topic that our population wants to know more about, so that could be, "How do I set boundaries? Are my boundaries able to change? How do I talk to my parents, my intimate partner, my peers about my boundaries and what those mean for me?"
Derek Smith:How important is that? That's a term that we kind of hear a lot, but how prevalent of a role do those boundaries play in your work?
Tracey Tevis:I think it's important for individuals to know about boundaries. When speaking to our population, I hear often that, "I've never had this conversation about boundaries and what my personal boundaries are." And boundaries can look different between individuals, so for example, you might have a person that's a very touchy person like, "I like to hug, I grew up in a household where we were always hugging." Where you could have another individual that says the exact opposite, and they're like, "For my boundary, I don't like to be touched." So, how do you talk to someone or say, "Oh, yes, I know you're trying to hug me, but can we shake hands instead? Can we do a fist bump, because I feel more comfortable expressing that type of emotion or support compared to a physical hug."
Derek Smith:Visiting with Tracy Tevis. And Tracy, another angle of this, that probably a lot of our listeners and myself included, maybe didn't grow up in, was having grown up with social media and so many different forms of digital media, different communication tools. This is a very broad topic, we could probably spend a whole program on itself, but could you take us inside that a little bit, what that means for students in college right now?
Tracey Tevis:Yeah, so first of all, for social media, that's one of our ways that we interact with our students. Our students are on social media, so we need to also be on social media sharing the prevention and awareness activities that we do, so we have a very good social media campaign, if you visit us at bu_equity, where we'll throw out facts, we'll ask students, "How do you show consent in this situation? Did you know our office does these things?" So that's one way that we use social media. However, at the same time, it's important to talk to our students about digital communication and how it impacts them. How can you set boundaries with digital communication, and that could be text messages. If you are in a relationship, it could be romantic, it can be with friends, it can be with your family, what are the boundaries that you're going to set when it comes to texting? "Okay, please don't text me after this time." Or, "I'm studying every night from three to seven, so please don't interrupt me during this time, unless there's an emergency, because I really want to focus in on my work." Maybe it's, "I'm going to turn off my phone or I'm going to shut down social media for this amount of time, so please don't contact me that way as well." So, creating those boundaries around digital technology and digital communication, that's an important skill for our students to learn, and even for our faculty and staff, because as we all know, it is very easy to get connected and stay connected when sometimes you need to pull away.
Derek Smith:Even as we're doing this interview, we're talking about the fact that I need to make sure my phone's not pinging me, or my email as well, and certainly that's the environment that they have grown up in, in a lot of ways. And maybe this is an obvious thing, but I'll ask you, a lot of what we're talking about here certainly is important as it relates to sexual misconduct and relationships, but in a lot of ways, how much of what you're talking about is really just healthy ways to approach the different inputs and outputs that come into our lives, and that can have ways of touching on those deeper topics.
Tracey Tevis:Yeah, so it's important for individuals to know how to set boundaries. And again, you set boundaries in a lot of different ways, but overall, these topics that we talk about can assist you with your overall self-care. So, for example, for sexual assault awareness month, I try to do a wellness activity in this. These topics are heavy to talk about, and if you are not in the world, they can be kind of awkward, so at the end of the month, we usually have a wellness activity that students, faculty, and staff can participate in. This year, we actually have two just to help with self-care and just a way to take a breather from all the heavy topics that we've talked about throughout the month.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Tracy Tevis, Education and Prevention Specialist in Baylor's Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX office. And Tracy, how important is that self-care aspect as it relates to students? Just, they've got a lot of things on their plate, they've got a lot coming and going, they're under a lot of different kinds of pressures, how important is that and what are some ways, you mentioned activities, what are some ways you encourage that in students?
Tracey Tevis:Yeah, so for our student population, when I'm having these conversations with them, I always tell them, "Self-care is important to practice, and it's important that you start now." I don't really feel like I developed self-care skills until my late twenties. And looking back, and I tell our students, I had to learn, you have to push away from sometimes your job. Don't check your email after a certain time and develop these skills now in college, so when you are in your career, it's not going to be awkward, and you're not going to feel like, "Am I doing a good job because I'm setting these boundaries or because I'm practicing these skills?" So, these are all topics and just techniques and skills that are important to know now, but they will carry you throughout your life.
Derek Smith:Well, Tracy, let's focus our attention a bit now as we look at the month of April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month. You've painted a great picture of a lot of the programming throughout the year, and I know that'll be ongoing, but are there special outreaches or special programming and as we head into the month of April here at Baylor?
Tracey Tevis:Yes, so throughout the month of April, our office does multiple activities. Some of the additions that you may not see at other parts of the year, this year, we're doing Cover the Cruiser. In this activity, students, faculty, staff, can pledge in support of supporting survivors of sexual misconduct, so we will be at Fountain Mall on Monday from two to four, so individuals can take the pledge and then we will also have Cha Community there. Enjoy a free Cha Community Boba Tea on our office and learn the faces. Come talk to us, ask us your questions or share comments. What would you like to see us do next year for our prevention and awareness activities? As I mentioned earlier, we do some sort of wellness activity, so this year we will be at Cycle Bar Waco, where we will have a ride, I'm calling it Battle of the Halls, so all the halls and anyone on our campus is encouraged to participate. It's a free cycling ride on our office. We ask that all participants donate a item that we will then give to the Family Advocacy Center. So, this could be stuffed animals, play-doh, clothing, all genders. These are items that they can then use, and it's basically just a gift from the Baylor community back to the Waco community. In addition to this, we have different topics that we talk about such as boundaries again, and consent. Some art activities, like I mentioned earlier, we'll be doing a rock painting that I'm calling Strong Foundations, you have to have a strong foundation first, so we encourage everyone to come out and just dialogue and participate in the different events that we have on campus.
Derek Smith:A lot of great events that people can take part in. And zooming back out a little bit with your office, if students have heard something that they want to learn more about or want to talk to you about resources or really just get in touch with your office in general, what are some of the best ways to do that?
Tracey Tevis:Yeah, the best ways, first, you can always call us. You can call our office, speak to a member of the team that way to connect to us. You can also email us email@example.com, if you have a certain topic or you're looking for a program, you can write us there also. And let me go back to our website, if you go to our website, it's baylor.edu/equity. We have a bunch of different programs that we do, posted online, so you can sign up for those programs, you can see what we offer, and if there's a topic on our website that we don't offer, you can ask us to create something targeted specifically to the skill or the population that you would like to reach. And lastly, one of the best ways to reach us is through our social media. You can message us directly at our bu_equity Instagram page and talk to us that way as well.
Derek Smith:That's great, a lot of ways to get in touch. Well, Tracy, thanks so much for taking the time. I know it's a busy time, but I appreciate you taking the time to share and hopefully get people connected to the work you and your colleagues are doing. Thanks so much for joining us on the program today.
Tracey Tevis:Thank you so much for having me.
Derek Smith:Great to have you here. Tracy Tevis, Education and Prevention Specialist in Baylor's Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX office, our guest today here on Baylor Connections. I'm Derek Smith, a reminder you can hear this and other programs online at baylor.edu/connections, and you can subscribe to the program on iTunes. Thanks for joining us here on Baylor Connections.