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 Report and Response, 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.
If you teach a course and you are also designated a Responsible Employee and/or Campus Security Authority, please include language in your syllabus such as the following:
I am designated a [Responsible Employee and Campus Security Authority] by University policy. This means I am not able to keep certain information confidential, and allows the University to ensure safety and well-being as well as a consistent response across campus. If you share with me information related to discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct, I am required to share that information and your name to the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (EOC). A report and response coordinator will reach out to you with resources, reporting options, and an offer to meet. You are not obligated to meet with the EOC unless you wish to do so. If you want to learn about confidential options for discussing your experiences, visit: 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.
- EOC Office
- Gender Violence Services Coordinators (GVSCs)
Prepare Students for Difficult Material
Instructors who include readings/films/discussions that include subject matter on difficult topics, such as interpersonal or sexual violence, are encouraged to consider informing students ahead of time. Certain material may cause participants to be reminded of or to relive past traumatic experiences in real time.
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. Many times, these students are able to handle graphic material by preparing in advance. On some occasions, they may need to take a 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, acknowledgement of information directing people to resources can normalize the act of seeking help and support for all of us.
- 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. Some may find the material throughout the semester sensitive and challenging. I encourage you to take this into careful consideration before committing to this class. Learning is important, and so is taking care of yourself. While connections to the material may feel personal for some, this is an academic course and classes will not be used to explore or discuss personal experiences. Certain readings and discussions may be difficult for survivors, secondary survivors, and non-survivors alike. Students in this course may have been directly or indirectly impacted by certain themes and for some students these topics may be brand new. All students are encouraged to seek appropriate resources throughout their time at UNC. As needed, please contact confidential resources such as the Gender Violence Services Coordinators (gvsc.unc.edu) and/or Counseling & Psychological Services in Campus Health Services (caps.unc.edu) to discuss your specific needs.
- Where 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].