News Briefs: App prompts Williams campus culture change; participants sought for Citizens’ Legislative Seminar

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By Saturday, Sep 12 News

Circle of 6 app helping to change Williams campus culture

Williamstown — When it comes to sexual assault prevention, campus culture at Williams College is changing. Data collected through a student survey, focus groups, and anonymous usage records all show that a new mobile app called Circle of 6, by enabling a few common sense strategies and fostering peer discussion on dating and relationships, is helping change students from individual bystanders to peer supporters engaged in collective preventative action.

Circle of 6 is a sexual assault prevention app that allows the user to create a circle of six friends a student can call or text easily when s/he is in an uncomfortable situation. A customized version of the app has been developed called “Circle of 6 U” that has links to campus-based sexual assault prevention and response resources, as well as a spectrum of educational resources on healthy and unhealthy relationships.

Data from Circle of 6 show that students in the 2,100-person Williams community open the app an average of 134 times a day, whether to interrupt uncomfortable situations, ask a friend to talk, find help getting home, or connect with campus-based resources.

In the portion of the survey that addresses the same bystander behaviors encouraged by the Circle of 6 app, 69 percent of the 1,300 respondents said they had checked in with a friend who looked very intoxicated and was leaving a party with someone. Eighty-two percent of students said they helped an intoxicated or otherwise challenged friend get home. A total of 52 percent of respondents said they had interrupted a conversation when one person was or appeared to be making another feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

Incoming first-year students who arrived on campus this week will be encouraged to download the app on their smartphones. The Williams version of the app has been downloaded more than 2,700 times in its first year of use.

–E.E.

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Downing seeking local participants for Citizens’ Legislative Seminar

Boston  — State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) announced that he is seeking local residents to nominate as participants of the 75th Citizens’ Legislative Seminar (CLS), to be held October 20-21 at the Massachusetts State House. The CLS is a semi-annual educational seminar geared towards adults of all ages interested in learning more about state government and the legislative process.

Established in 1976 through a collaborative effort of the Massachusetts Senate and the University of Massachusetts, the two-day seminar features engaging presentations by senators and staff on aspects of the day-to-day experience of legislators in the Commonwealth. Topics will include the history and process of the Legislature, the parliamentary role of the clerk of the Senate, and the future of the Legislature. The seminar will walk participants through the legislative process including how bills are introduced, debated, and passed.

The CLS culminates with a simulated legislative hearing and Senate session where participants are invited to use what they have learned and participate as “senators” in the Senate Chamber in order to have a first-hand experience of the legislative process.

Residents of Downing’s Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden district are invited to contact his chief of staff, Bethann Steiner, at Bethann.Steiner@masenate.gov by Monday, September 21th if they are interested in attending. Applicants must be able to attend both days of the CLS program and submit a resume for consideration in order to be nominated by Senator Downing. Participation is on a first come, first served basis. Transportation and lodging will not be provided by Senator Downing or the Massachusetts Senate.

–E.E.


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