SGA partners with YWCA to bring bar safety and anti-harassment training to Brown Street

Timothy’s Pub & Grill is the first and only Brown Street bar to be trained in YWCA’s sexual assault prevention program. Photo courtesy of Keegan Gupta, director of digital media & photography.

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Tori Miller | News Editor

Seventeen University of Dayton students reported being sexually assaulted on-campus in 2020, according to the university’s 2021 campus security and fire safety report. The Student Government Association, alumni and Dayton partners are working to make that number zero.

An American is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds, according to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and partner of YWCA. An estimated 50% of those assaults involve alcohol in some way— often as an excuse or camouflage for the aggressor or as a weapon used to incapacitate a target.

YWCA Dayton announced the Gem City Safe Bars initiative in April 2021, which is part of a national program to train staff at local bars and restaurants. The training is designed to help participants identify, intervene and respond to sexual harassment and violence. 

Sofia Garcia, senior political science major and SGA President, reached out to YWCA last year to increase student safety on- and off-campus. Garcia worked alongside the leadership of Topher Peck, a sexual violence preventionist in the Center for Survivors of Sexual Violence at YWCA and ’21 UD alum.

“On-campus and off-campus, sexual violence is a problem wherever you go,” Garcia said. “Unfortunately that’s just the society we live in, but we can take even a little step of trying to fix it on campus. I think it means a lot to students— it means a lot to me.” 

Garcia and UD Public Safety met with YWCA in fall 2021 with the goal to train at least one campus bar by the end of her junior year. Staff at Timothy’s Bar and Grill received training in the spring, making it the first Brown Street establishment to participate in the initiative. Sexual assault prevention is one of the key issues Garcia campaigned on in the spring because she recognized the issue’s relevancy and prevalence to the university community.

“Yeah, all the time. All the time,” Garcia said, when asked whether SGA has had students requesting more campus and bar safety. “One of our main goals this year is campus safety, as an SGA administration… Our budget comes from student tuition dollars. So for me, I want them to feel like their money is going toward something that is going to help them.”

Assistant vice president and chief of UD Police Savalas Kidd said collaboration creates a stronger core in the community. He said Public Safety wants to increase partnerships, not just with SGA and YWCA, but with local businesses as well. 

“We can do more together than we can as individual entities,” Kidd said. “There will be more trained individuals able to identify situations with someone trying to redirect a situation or reaching out because they need help.”

The initiative encourages a collaborative effort by equiping staff with proactive strategies to handle sexual violence and to take the pressue off of the victims. 

Peck led the training at Tim’s, which focused on teaching staff how to respond when violence occurs and providing individuals with the proper support and resources. He commended the management and staff for their engagement in the materials. 

“I was really impressed with that group specifically,” Peck said. “It was one of the most lively groups that we’ve trained. They brought in some real world examples and it was just a really positive experience.”

Thirteen percent of all college students have been raped or sexually assaulted, with one in four college women reporting being sexually assaulted, accoring to RAINN. Peck, a recent UD graduate, said he lived in the apartments next to Tim’s his senior year and considered himself a witness to many things that should not have happened.

“I was living on the frontlines where it was happening,” Peck said. “For me to be able to be a part of the change in the culture there, that was huge”

Peck said this initiative is significant in its relation to the university’s commitment to community. He said the students are one of the driving forces for bringing change on campus. 

“I think it’s a real opportunity for the community to practice what it preaches,” Peck said. “The more that they are willing to participate, the more likely that we’re going to be able to pull in the leaders, the management and the people that have the biggest role in bringing about the positive change that we need.” 

Participating businesses must complete the two and a half hour training to receive a one-year certificate. The training begins with a reflection on the what different levels of sexual violence can look like followed by roleplaying scenarios to practice prevention strategies.

Peck said the training grounds the conversation by discussing real-world examples based on what participants have personally experienced. From there, behaviors are organized on a spectrum based on their threat to the victim. Peck said this is important to visualize how lighter forms of harassment can escalate to life-threatening assault. 

“These behaviors are not mutually exclusive; they build on each other,” Peck said. “The whole purpose of the training is to help the staff find ways to deescalate after having identified those behaviors.” 

YWCA has partnered with other businesses in Dayton, but Tim’s is the only Brown Street bar participating in the program. 

Garcia said it has been a struggle for other businesses to see the benefits of the training. Owners do not want to pay employees for time attending the training or provide space for training during business hours. Beholden to making the program as accessible to businesses as possible, SGA is covering the yearly training cost— $365 per business— through its advocacy project budget. 

“[Businesses] don’t have to rent space out and it’s already paid for by SGA,” Garcia said.

Garcia also believes students will prefer to go to businesses that have been trained out of concern for their personal safety. 

 “If you’re trained, students are going to want to go to your establishment because they feel safe enough,” she said.

YWCA will begin hosting monthly training sessions next week at the Fitz Center for Leadership. Staff members can attend individually, which requires no physical or financial commitment from the business itself. Once 80% of a business’s staff have attended the training, they can be awarded with the one-year certificate. 

The benefits of the training program go beyond preventing sexual assault for bar-goers, according to Garcia. 

“Working in the restaurant or service industry, you get harassed yourself,” Garcia said. “[The training] kills so many birds with one stone, whether they’re students or workers.”

The initiative has garnered mutual appreciation between SGA and university administration. Garcia said she was thankful for the support of the university throughout this process, and President Eric Spina returned the gratitude. 

“I love the partnership around this,” Spina said. “I applaud any effort that is intended to support our students in remaining safe, especially something like sexual violence which has long-term effects for individuals.”

Flyer Safe App

In a joint effort to improve safety on campus, University of Dayton Public Safety, the Student Government Association, and UD Information Technology launched the Flyer Safe app at the end of the spring term.

The app provides a one-stop shop for safety resources including websites and phone numbers to a sexual harassment, peer support groups, the health center, the counseling center, campus ministry and the office of diversity and inclusion.

Students can also use the “Friend Walk” feature in the app to share their location with a friend. The friend can monitor the user’s progress toward their destination and alert public safety if something goes wrong.

A mobile blue light is embedded in the app as well as the numbers for emergency services.

The app is free to download from the App Store and Google Play store.

The above content contains subject matter including sexual abuse, if you or anyone you know is experiencing sexual abuse, assault or harassment please consider the following on and off-campus sources:

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE The Brook Center 937-229-1217

UD Department of Public Safety 937-229-2121 Dayton City Police Department 937-333-2677 Health Center 937-229-3131 (Only doctors are a confidential source)

RAINN 800-656-4673 (Confidential) Montgomery County Prosecutor’s 24-hour sexual assault hotline 937-225-5623 (Confidential) Women’s Center (on campus) 937-229-5390 Equity Compliance Office 937-229-3622

YWCA Dayton’s mission is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YWCA also offers emergency shelter and crisis support for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Peck encouraged anyone seeking assistance to call the YWCA’s 24/7 crisis hotline at 937-222-SAFE (7233).

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