Building a culture of respect – Cadets Against Sexual Assault

As we enter the third week of our blog series in support of Sexual Assault Awareness Month we asked two cadets at the Coast Guard Academy (CGA) to share their perspectives on how the future leaders of the Coast Guard are tackling the issue of sexual assault in a college campus setting while preparing to enter the service as officers. As leaders of the Cadets Against Sexual Assault program at CGA, Ms. Carpenter and Mr. Crum serve as role models to their fellow cadets and as leaders of a culture change in the way the Coast Guard responds to and works to eradicate sexual assaults from our service.

Post written by Cadets Second Class Nathanael Crum and Jenna Carpenter

Cadets Against Sexual Assault, or CASA, has been a mainstay at the Coast Guard Academy (CGA) since 2005. CASA members provide sexual assault prevention and response training to fellow cadets, take part in “One in Four” presentations for male cadets, and staff a 24-hour confidential hotline for victims of sexual harassment and assault. In a challenging social environment like CGA, peer-to-peer education on the issues of sexual harassment and assault provides a comfort and credibility level that lends itself to a culture of mutual trust and respect. Perhaps more importantly, the training that CASA members receive on restricted reporting provides our fellow cadets with a place to go if they believe one of their shipmates has been the victim of an assault or if they themselves become a victim.

CASA members are both male and female. This is both a reflection of the fact that both men and women can be victims of sexual assaults and that all members of the Coast Guard have a role to play in ensuring the safety of their shipmates.

We both found ourselves inspired by CASA presentations during Swab Summer and are proud to be considered leaders in the program as Second Class cadets. The program has not only afforded us the opportunity to educate and serve as advocates for our shipmates, but we believe it has truly made the Academy a better institution.

The atmosphere at the Coast Guard Academy is one of mutual respect. Cadets, female and male, look out for each other’s well being. Respect is a Coast Guard core value, and is embodied by the corps whether its members are on liberty, leave, onboard an operational unit, or onboard the Academy itself. The Academy’s mission is to produce leaders of character and CASA helps instill important character traits by focusing on respect for others, empathy, and support. Although CASA does not exist in the fleet, the lessons that cadets learn through CASA will follow them to their operational assignments. It is our hope that the traits of respect, empathy, and support will become synonymous with Academy graduates as we become Coast Guard leaders in the years to come.

Cadet Second Class Jenna Carpenter: "I became interested in CASA the first summer I was onboard the Academy.  During Swab Summer there is a training that introduces upper-class cadets that are advocates of sexual assault education.  I found myself agreeing with them completely and knew that I wanted to be a part of the group that influences others around the Academy to educate people on sexual assault/harassment.  I want to let people know that it is intolerable and as an organization we should show each other the respect they deserve, whether it be in a port of call, or just everyday life." (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Doss)

Cadet Second Class Jenna Carpenter: "I became interested in CASA the first summer I was onboard the Academy. During Swab Summer there is a training that introduces upper-class cadets that are advocates of sexual assault education. I found myself agreeing with them completely and knew that I wanted to be a part of the group that influences others around the Academy to educate people on sexual assault/harassment. I want to let people know that it is intolerable and as an organization we should show each other the respect they deserve, whether it be in a port of call, or just everyday life." (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Doss)

Cadet Second Class Nate Crum: "My own formative experience with CASA occurred about three weeks into my own swab summer in the form of a training facilitated by 2/c and 1/c in civilian clothes. It was a powerful image to see these authority figures, who so far had solely filled the role of strict disciplinarians, standing simply as people firmly against sexual assault in any form. The message was clear: this was not a normal college, and sexual harassment and sexual assault had no place at this institution. Later during 4/c year, I attended a 1 in 4 presentation which further reinforced this point. Yet as I became more involved in CASA, I soon realized that the concept of zero tolerance was only the tip of the iceberg; far more important was encouraging a culture of respect at all times, with all persons." (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Doss)

Cadet Second Class Nate Crum: "My own formative experience with CASA occurred about three weeks into my own Swab Summer in the form of a training facilitated by Second Class and First Class cadets in civilian clothes. It was a powerful image to see these authority figures, who so far had solely filled the role of strict disciplinarians, standing simply as people firmly against sexual assault in any form. The message was clear: this was not a normal college, and sexual harassment and sexual assault had no place at this institution. Later during Fourth Class year, I attended a 1 in 4 presentation which further reinforced this point. Yet as I became more involved in CASA, I soon realized that the concept of zero tolerance was only the tip of the iceberg; far more important was encouraging a culture of respect at all times, with all persons." (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Doss)

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  • http://hotmail Ray D. Lafferty

    Indeed sexual assault is an evil and hideous matter. It is deserving of swift actions in dealing with it. However, there is another misconduct that is also wrong regarding sexual assault, and that is falsely accusing another of committing a sexual assault that never occured. Wrongly accused people can spend the remainder of their lives bearing the scars of the trauma of being falsely accused, and those who falsely accuse are as guilty of wrong as is the one who truly committs a sexual assault. Both true assault and false accuasation should be regarded with all seriousness.