From Teal Dot to Title IX, CMS athletes are getting educated on sexual safety

Teal Dot training sessions at the EmPOWER Center aim to teach proper bystander engagement to members of the 7Cs. (Reynaldo Cullanay • The Student Life)

Their colors may be cardinal and gold, but the Stags and Athenas are working hard to get a teal colored stamp of approval.

Over the last few weeks, several of the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) sports teams have been partaking in various sexual assault training sessions. From sessions hosted by the Title IX office at Claremont McKenna College to Teal Dot Bystander Engagement training, the teams have been learning about both prevention tactics and about institutional support available for survivors at the Claremont Colleges.

Zachariah Schlichting CM ’24 of the football team suggested that because student athletes make up a large part of the student body and many partake in social activities on campus, it is important for them to be educated. 

“[Student athletes can be] pretty involved in social activities on campus — whether that be parties on a Saturday night or a campus-club situation. If [we] are aware of how to handle situations that may escalate, it makes it so that there’s more [people] prepared to take action,” Schlichting said.

Of the CMS teams who have attended these training sessions, many of them are men’s teams. Donovan Davidson CM ’26 of the men’s water polo team said he thinks that it is especially important for male student athletes to be educated in bystander engagement training.

“Our team did the training because we all felt that it is very important for us as males on campus to know what to do when situations could go wrong,” Davidson said. “We know we can have an impact in helping people who are [dealing with experiences] like sexual assault and that we can help prevent those situations from happening.”

Ian Freer CM ’24 of the men’s tennis team thinks that not only do student athletes have the responsibility of representing themselves, their team and their school well, but they also have to hold their friends and teammates accountable.

“Especially with an important topic like sexual safety, we need to be on the same page about what the right course of action is,” Freer said. “I think the biggest thing we can do is to hold ourselves and our teammates accountable for doing what we learned at the session. We spend so much time with our teammates and our peers, so we definitely are in the position to do so.” 

The Teal Dot training sessions, hosted by the EmPOWER Center at the 7Cs, aim to educate students on “how to identify high risk situations and to intervene in a safe way to prevent sexual assault, dating/domestic violence and stalking.” 

Schlichting said he thought that the session was informative and thinks that they will help boost people’s confidence to be able to intervene when needed. 

“We learned how to spot the cues to a potentially problematic situation and how to respond to them,” Schlichting said. “[Specifically], we talked about the different strategies, like delegating the situation to someone else and asking for support, and how at times we might need to address it directly.” 

Freer and the rest of the men’s tennis team attended a special Valentine’s Day session hosted by the Title IX office at CMC. Their session consisted of an interactive Jeopardy game that tested them on their knowledge of Title IX as a whole. Freer said the most meaningful thing that he learned was how the Title IX office acts as another avenue of support for survivors and students in general on campus.

“I think as an athlete, when you hear Title IX, you automatically think of equal representation in sports,” Freer said. “I didn’t realize how involved Title IX is in topics like sexual safety and responding to sexual assault. I thought that was informative and good to know.”

Davidson said he thinks his Teal Dot session gave him a new perspective on the importance of being an active bystander. 

“If you prevent someone from hooking up with another person, it’s not going to change the course of history,” Davidson said. “But if you fully prevent someone from being assaulted, then you can change someone’s life forever. It’s definitely worth saying or asking something, even if you’re unsure of what’s going on, because that will have a much bigger impact than doing nothing.”

Schlichting said he thinks that the reason people might be hesitant to intervene in potentially alarming situations is because they are unsure about what steps are best to take. He said he endorses not just student athletes, but all students to make an effort to learn about bystander engagement and how to prevent sexual assault. By attending these training sessions, he said he believes students can play an active role in fostering a safer and more inclusive environment on campus. 

“Bringing preventing sexual assault to the forefront of people’s minds and making people cognizant and aware of the situations where it can happen is definitely needed,” Schlichting said. “I think having all students go through these training sessions is a great place to start, but I also think that it doesn’t stop there. These crash courses are good for teaching us how to handle those types of situations, but we have to work to remind ourselves of what we learned at these sessions every time we go out.”

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