All instructors are encouraged to consider the impact of interpersonal (relationship) and sexual violence on the students in their class. One way to do this is to include in their syllabus a statement encouraging students affected by discrimination, harassment, and sexual or interpersonal violence to seek appropriate resources and support. There are several reasons why such a syllabus statement is helpful for survivors:
- This statement normalizes the process for seeking support and reporting violence, and helps to create a positive and welcoming environment for students who have experienced violence.
- This statement also serves as a reminder to all members of the UNC community that approximately one quarter of our students experience sexual or interpersonal violence, either before or during their college years.
- Finally, for faculty members who may be discussing triggering topics in their classes, the statement starts a conversation about the connection between personal experiences and academic inquiry.
The following is an example of a syllabus statement that can be used for your course:
Any student who is impacted by discrimination, harassment, interpersonal (relationship) violence, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, or stalking is encouraged to seek resources on campus or in the community. Please contact the Director of Title IX Compliance, Report and Response Coordinators, Counseling & Psychological Services (confidential), or the Gender Violence Services Coordinators (confidential) to discuss your specific needs. Additional resources are available at safe.unc.edu.
Schedule a Guest Lecturer or Consult on Curriculum
Regardless of your discipline, consider having a guest lecturer come in the next time you need to cancel class. Alternatively, if you will be addressing violence and harassment in the content of your curriculum, staff are available to consult with you regarding information and/or resources on campus. The following staff members can consult with you or present guest lectures on various topics in classes or to student groups about prevention of and response to incidents of sexual violence, interpersonal violence and stalking.
- Associate Vice Chancellor for Equal Opportunity and Compliance
- Director of Title IX/Title IX Coordinator
- Report and Response Coordinators (RRCs)
Carolina Women’s Center
Prepare Students for Graphic Material
Instructors who include readings/films/discussions that include subject matter related to interpersonal or sexual violence are encouraged to consider incorporating information which indicates discussions may take place in the classroom around these topics. Class discussions may be difficult for some people who have experienced or been impacted by violence or harassment. Content warnings can help those individuals prepare for the discussion and remind others in the space that the issue must be approached from a place of thoughtfulness and respect because the discussion goes beyond abstract issues to the lived experiences of some students in the classroom. Many times, these students are able to handle graphic material by preparing in advance. Other times, they may need to take a bathroom break or leave class if they are feeling overwhelmed.
A content warning can help empower those who have experienced violence and harassment by allowing them to choose when and where they may be exposed to graphic material, and to develop resiliency to this material over time. Additionally, warnings that include information directing people to resources help to normalize that getting help is normal. Regardless of a student’s experience, these warnings can help students understand that if they feel that class material is upsetting, the healthy thing to do is to take care of themselves outside of class.
Example of a statement: All participants in this class should be aware that we will have frank discussions about [topics such as sexual assault, interpersonal violence, graphic physical violence, sexual health, sexuality, identity-based harassment and discrimination, etc.] during this course. Certain readings and discussions may be difficult for survivors, secondary survivors, and non-survivors alike. Any student who is impacted by harassment, interpersonal (relationship) violence, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, or stalking is encouraged to seek appropriate resources on campus or in the community. As needed, please contact confidential resources such as the Gender Violence Services Coordinator in the Carolina Women’s Center at (919) 962-1343 or Counseling & Psychological Services in Campus Health Services at (919) 966-3658 to discuss your specific needs.
As applicable: You will see a star (*) next to certain texts. These readings may be particularly difficult for some students as they contain graphic depictions of [topics such as pornography, sexual assault, relationship abuse, harassment, or other forms of violence].