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Student-athlete sexual violence prevention program comes to a close

The ten week Fair Play: Sexual Violence Prevention for Athletes program needs funds to continue in the future

Otterbein's pilot program on sexual violence prevention with athletes is coming to a close.

The Fair Play: Sexual Violence Prevention for Athletes program was developed by Assistant Sports Management professor Kristy McCray's dissertation. 

The official ten week pilot program began this fall with athletes from Otterbein's softball, football, tennis and golf teams. It focuses on dispelling sexual assault myths and increasing the acceptance of less rigid gender roles to help prevent sexual violence by student-athletes.

“We focus on what sexual assault, consent, and rape culture are," said McCray. "We talk about rape myths and victim blaming. It’s like a foundation for what we’re talking about.” 

The program is discussion-based and includes activities and videos to supplement the material. Athletes watched an episode of the television show “Outside the Lines”, which focuses on a football player who committed sexual assault.

McCray said the sessions challenge what many students previously thought about sexual assault and what leads to sexual violence. 

“I think for some students, they’re also grappling with ‘that’s not what I was told’ or 'that’s not how I was raised' or 'that‘s not what I thought,'” said McCray. 

McCray said that one reason why the program is well-received is due to the fact that it's proactive in addressing incidents amongst student-athletes. 

“We’re doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, not because we’re in trouble,” said McCray.

The sessions are 60 minutes long and held on Wednesday nights. The athletes are grouped based on year and gender. The men’s sessions are led by Ben Schwartz from the Center for Student Involvement, and the women’s sessions are led by Jill Davis from Ohio Health. 

Alyson McAdams, a junior infielder on the softball team, said the sessions have been informative and that she enjoys them.

“She [Jill Davis] knows what she’s talking about," said McAdams. "She’s very informative, while also being able to relate to us. It’s not a lecture, it’s a discussion. I think that’s also an important aspect of the program.”

McAdams also said that the ten-week program could be shortened.

“It's a very long series,” said McAdams. “I just feel like the material being covered could be more concise. It could go down to being a three or four-week program.”

Funding for the program is an issue. The university received a grant of $9,447 from the Ohio Department of Higher Education to start the pilot program, but more funding would be needed to continue the program next semester. 

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