8/23 – Building a Culture of Consent

August 23, 2022

TO:     USC Students

CC:     USC Faculty and University Staff

FR:      Monique S. Allard, EdD, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs

Catherine Spear, Vice President for Equity, Equal Opportunity, and Title IX (EEO-TIX); Title IX Coordinator

Sarah Van Orman, MD, MMM, FACHA, Chief Health Officer, USC Student Health; Division Chief for College Health, Keck School of Medicine of USC

RE:       Building a Culture of Consent—Expectations and Requirements for USC Students

As a community, the University of Southern California commits to serving as a world-class resource for education, to create an environment that spurs innovation in academic and professional pursuits, to build a culture that encourages each member to strive for their highest level of achievement, and to protect each member’s right to pursue their education and professional goals in a fair and equitable manner during the time they are here. To that end, the University has implemented the Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation that applies to all students, faculty, and staff.

Building a culture of consent is a fundamental step in eliminating sexual assault, sexual misconduct, and gender-based harm in our campus communities. 

As the 2019 Task Force Report on this subject found, “Transforming an institutional campus culture that celebrates integrity, respect, trust and achievement will take our collective resolve to fully realize.”

Every member of our USC student community is expected to understand that clearly obtaining consent in relationships and intimate encounters is the norm. Respect for others, including respect for self-identified genders, and sexual respect and acknowledging boundaries, is how Trojans should treat each other. 

To help our students understand consent, in addition to the online prevention education modules, the following live-session, facilitated discussion modules are required for USC undergraduate students:

FIRST-YEAR: Trojans Respect Consent: Provide awareness of definitions, communication skills, and explorations of real-life situations for understanding consent. You will see this assigned to you in my.usc.edu.

SECOND-YEAR: Healthy Relationships. Defines rights and responsibilities in relationships (all types, not just romantic); provides an understanding of the relationships between boundaries, expectations, and communication. System updates are in progress in my.usc.edu for returning students, you may not see an assignment at present, but you can still sign up through trojanlearn.usc.edu by searching for the title of the session.

THIRD-YEAR: Trojans Act Now. Provides an overview of “upstander” behaviors, including awareness of potentially harmful situations, when and how to intervene safely, and how to involve resource offices for help. System updates are in progress in my.usc.edu for returning students, you may not see an assignment at present, but you can still sign up through trojanlearn.usc.edu by searching for the title of the session.

Live session sign-up opens today on trojanlearn.usc.edu

Complete your session before the deadline of February 27, 2023. The years 2 and 3 modules may be taken at any point after the year 1 modules are completed. Additional information on required prevention education modules may be found on the Student Affairs website.

It is equally important for our community to understand the resource offices that are available for students.

·         The Advocates Program in USC Student Health’s Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention and Servicesunit provides confidential support for survivors of sexual assault and gender-based harm. Advocates are available on-call 24/7, through the Student Health call center, 213-740-9355 (WELL). Call and say “I’d like to talk to an Advocate” to be connected to services. They can arrange for transportation to a SART (sexual assault response team) center for a forensic exam and will go with you; they will also provide information about reporting options, arrange for campus accommodations, and counseling support. You can also contact the Advocates Program via secure message in MySHR. This is a confidential service; there is no cost to USC students, and insurance will not be billed. An advocate can answer your questions about what happens next as you weigh your decisions; they will provide trauma-informed services for all clients.

·         Help & Hotline for Reporting: You may report concerns by calling the USC Help & Hotline 213-740-2500; or 800-348-7454. These numbers are staffed by live operators 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You may also report via the online form.

·         The Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity, and Title IX (EEO-TIX), is a centralized resource for all students, staff, and faculty regarding reports of prohibited conduct under the University’s Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation. EEO-TIX is charged with preventing and responding to all forms of discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics, including sexual and gender-based harassment and violence, as well as retaliation. The office also advances equal opportunity and supports and centralizes ongoing prevention, education, and training across the university. Contact eeotix@usc.edu, or call 213-740-5086.

·         The USC Department of Public Safety works to provide a safe and secure environment on campus and in the local USC community and is available 24/7 to respond to all campus emergencies. For emergencies, call 213-740-4321 (UPC) or 323-442-1000 (HSC). For non-emergencies, call 213-740-6000 (UPC) or 323-442-1200 (HSC).

We thank our community in advance for participating in the required programs; upholding the culture of consent, respect, and safety at our university; and being ready to connect a survivor to services if they are ever in need.

Your help in being an upstander brings us closer to eliminating sexual assault, sexual misconduct, and gender-based harm on our campuses and in our communities.