Building a culture of respect – Cadets Against Sexual Assault
Posted by Christopher Lagan, Friday, April 23, 2010
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.