CAVE Transitions to Office of Wellness and Prevention Education

McClintock Brings New Leadership to the Program

The Clark Anti-Violence Education (CAVE) program has found a new home in the recently created Office of Wellness and Prevention Education, assistant directed by Erin McClintock within the Dean of Students office.

The CAVE program aims to reduce sexual assault and dating violence on Clark’s campus through a variety of activities, including ongoing awareness training and educational programs that discuss the role of bystanders, consent, and stalking, among other topics. Another objective of the program is to increase rates of help-seeking among victims by improving knowledge of and access to resources, as well as through training key officials on campus.

Eight years ago, Research Associate Professors of Psychology Denise Hines, Ph.D. and Kathleen Palm Reed, Ph.D. came to Clark and, after realizing their mutual interest in addressing dating violence and sexual assault on college campuses, co-founded the CAVE program in 2009 with the help of grants from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice.

When the most recent grant expired last year, the CAVE program needed to find another way to continue its work on Clark’s campus.

As the grant expired, McClintock completed her first year as Wellness Outreach Coordinator. In that role, she worked with the Dean of Students Office and Counseling Services (where she had previously worked for two years as a full-time therapist) to fill the gap in wellness programming left by the departure of former Associate Dean of Students and Wellness Outreach Coordinator Jason Zelesky in Oct. 2013.

McClintock was already collaborating with CAVE and working with students on consent programming, so when the University asked her at the end of last year to also focus on prevention education (i.e. the CAVE program) and become the assistant director of the new Office of Wellness and Prevention Education, her transition to the role felt natural, she said.

Although CAVE is now officially housed in this new office, Hines and Palm Reed remain involved with the program as outgoing co-directors, though their official roles post-transition are yet to be determined. “The plan for the rest of the year moving forward is [for Hines and me] to be stepping back and having Erin take more of the leadership position, and being around in an advising capacity,” said Palm Reed.

Hines and Palm Reed expressed excitement over McClintock’s involvement. “One of the things we wanted to always do was have the University take over [the CAVE program] as their own,” said Hines. “We have been asking for a position like Erin’s for a while.”

Hines also pointed out that McClintock is in a better position than herself and Palm Reed to recruit and work with students, since their roles as faculty members often prevented them from dedicating as much time as they wanted to programming and may have caused students to see them more as authority figures than collaborators.

As she transitions to leading the CAVE program, McClintock wants to focus on “expanding on what’s already been done, bringing students into the picture more, and continuing collaboration across campus.”

A large part of student involvement comes from the CAVE Community Task Force. The task force was developed last year as a continuation of Consenting Communities, a program implemented during Week One 2014 to address the lack of consent-based education for first-years.

The task force, which currently consists of three undergraduate students and is overseen by McClintock and her graduate assistant Sarah Dys (‘15), trained sixty students to be facilitators of the Consenting Communities program during this year’s Week One. All task force members and overseers agree that the conversation about consent and other CAVE-related topics needs to continue throughout the year, which is now the Office of Wellness and Prevention Education’s responsibility.

Statistically speaking, students are much more likely to seek help from another student than from a professional in instances of dating violence and sexual assault. In light of that fact, McClintock believes that educational programming is invaluable on campus. “If students are aware of what CAVE is through participating in these programs,” she said, “my hope is that the word will spread, and it can at least be a starting point [for those seeking help].”

With the addition of the Office of Wellness and Prevention Education and the leadership of McClintock, the hope is that the CAVE program will have a more visible, central role on Clark’s campus.