Football Team Undergoes Sexual Assault Prevention Training
By Jasmine Blackwell and Sierria Ware
Old Dominion University football players are tackling sexual assault head on. For the first time ever on Aug. 9 the football players participated in a sexual assault prevention-training program and say they are taking it very seriously.
Lawanza Lett-Brewington, the new director of the ODU Women’s Center, met with Head football coach Bobby Wilder after she arrived on campus in the summer of 2013. Wilder was eager to team up with the women’s center for this program
The one-day prevention program focuses on athletes setting an example rather than accusing them or shaming them. “It was really about them as leaders stepping up because they are respected on campus,” said Lett-Brewington in an October 23rd press conference.
ODU football has been heavily scrutinized since two players were charged with rape in June 2012. The two players were suspended from the team and the university, and have trials set for December 11th and 18th. This program is intended to prevent another incident.
Joann Bautti, assistant director of the Women’s Center, coordinated the prevention program. Instead of an early morning summer practice, 40 new players reported to L.R. Hill Sports Complex for the training, based closely on “A Call to Men,” a YouTube video by Tony Porter. This video talks about the “manhood and the role of men in preventing domestic and sexual violence.” Porter tells stories from his life, explaining how “man mentatlity” can lead to the disrespect of women and each other. As a solution he encourages men to break out of the “man box.”
After watching Tony Porter’s video the players were given actual man boxes, six-sided boxes that addressed many of the stereotypes men face, Bautti said.
During the activity, players were split into groups to encourage discussion. Four male volunteers facilitated, whichallowed the players to talk more freely. They discussed how to handle stereotypes in a safe and healthy way.
“They were very engaged and responsive; we didn’t have to beg them to talk,” After the man box training, Bautti and her volunteers introduced the topic of sexual assault. The players were informed that the aggression they have on the field is not acceptable in relationships.
“I think it’s something football players across the country need to be informed about,” said ODU wide-receiver Larry Pinkard after completing the training.
According to both Bautti and Lett-Brewington the program was Successful and is It is expected to expand beyond the football team to the entire campus in future semesters.