Holly Rider-Milkovich —Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Member Highlight—April 2016

  • Holly Rider-Milkovich (hburmeis@umich.edu)
    • Director, Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, University of Michigan
    • Co-Chair, Abuse Hurts Initiative, University of Michigan

What is the focus of your current injury research? What are you currently working on?

Currently, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) is focused on developing, implementing, and evaluating the effectiveness of a primary prevention program for incoming first-year undergraduate students. The program is designed to teach skills related to consent and it encourages students to make choices about relationships and sexual activity that are based on their self-identified values.

Why is this interesting to you?

So often, programs aimed at intervening with this population (undergraduate college students) focus on teaching the concepts of consent. What our preliminary research with University of Michigan incoming freshman indicated was that students already understood the core concepts of consent, but that they struggled with how to put that knowledge into practice.  So to address this concern, our work focuses on increasing students' skill set related to obtaining and providing clear, verbal, and enthusiastic consent for desired sexual activity.  We frame consent as a lifelong relationship skill that is useful to everyone, whether they are currently engaging in sexual activity or not. The growth I see in students’ skills and the increased confidence students exhibit in using their skills is most exciting to me. 

What is the next project or area of research that you would like to pursue?

One of the real challenges in working in sexual violence prevention with a college population is that there is so much we simply do not yet know.  Much of the research that has been done thus far has focused on educational efforts—trainings, workshops, etc.  I am very interested in exploring environmental interventions as a complement to educational interventions.  This approach is currently accepted as standard practice in comprehensively addressing harm associated with alcohol and other drug use. I think this approach could also have application in future interventions directed toward reducing sexual assaults as well.  

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Article Type: