4 football players were dismissed from the Vanderbilt University football team after charges of sexual assault were brought against them this past week. When you read the details of the case, you notice something very unique about HOW this sexual assault case was discovered. From CNN.com, it said:
“The incident first came to light when university officials checking the dorm’s hallway surveillance recordings regarding an unrelated situation observed unusual behavior by the defendants, police said. That prompted a notification to campus police on June 26. That same day, Vanderbilt University Police called Nashville police into the investigation.”
When I conduct trainings for Residence Life staff at universities throughout North America, one of the biggest “Aha” moments RAs and CAs (Residence Assistants and Community Advisors) often say they takeaway from the training is How to spot a dangerous situation in your residence hall. One of the key skills we reveal is paying attention to what is happening AND what is likely to happen based on what you are observing. This case at Vanderbilt University is an example of PAYING ATTENTION to what is happening.
The campus was NOT looking at the video because of a report of this sexual assault. In fact, they were looking at the video due to an “unrelated incident.” However, those observing the video NOTICED the “unusual behavior by the defendants” and TOOK ACTION.
Part of the action campus police took was notifying the Nashville police. During a time we have heard about too many campuses trying to “handle” sexual assault cases internally, hearing a campus was quick to involve the local police is appreciated.
P.S. What would have been ideal in this case? To have students who were present that night on the residence hall floor (if any were) or Residence Life staff who were present (if any were) to have taken action by intervening BEFORE a sexual assault occurred. The more campuses focus on teaching these skills, the more incidents of sexual assaults can be lowered. Even more ideal would have been if no one tried to sexually assault another person!