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Otterbein professor McCray to launch pilot program for sexual assault prevention

Otterbein professor McCray to launch pilot program for sexual assault prevention

Lauren Heberling ’19

Sexual assault is never an easy topic to discuss but Dr. Kristy McCray, assistant professor for the Department of Health and Sport Sciences, is starting a conversation with Otterbein student athletes through the implementation of an educational pilot program.

McCray’s program is commencing this winter with four of Otterbein’s sports teams including Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Men’s Wrestling and Women’s Indoor Track.  The program is the result of McCray’s dissertation research, which focused on the prevalence of sexual assault in college athletics.

McCray said, “When thinking about sexual assault, I was concerned about the ‘why.’ If we can figure out the ‘why,’ we can better create prevention programs.”

The program will consist of four tenets of study: basic understanding and definitions of sexual assault and consent, healthy sexual education, breaking down gender roles, and bystander intervention.  Her research found that bystander intervention models were most effective in creating a healthy sex culture for students.

McCray wants to implement a program that saturates a smaller pool of students and provides a long, in-depth educational experience.  She hopes that this version of programming will be more effective and lasting than simply having a speaker on campus.

“We wouldn’t teach an athlete all the game plays in 60 minutes, she said. “You wouldn’t teach healthy sex education in 60 minutes either.”

The pilot programming has received support from Academic Affairs and various grants.  Insight from Julie Saker, associate dean of students and Title IX deputy coordinator; Scott Fitzgerald, director of human resources and Title IX coordinator; and Dawn Stewart, director of athletics, has helped McCray figure out how the program fits into the broader Otterbein curriculum.

McCray has been teaching at Otterbein since 2015 and uses her sport management classes to talk about sexual education and assault. 

“I talk about sexual assault at some point in every class because students aren’t hearing about it in other venues, so they are going to hear it from me,” she said.

McCray’s unique research has earned her national coverage by CNN, The Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report.

Learn more about Otterbein's Department of Health and Sport Sciences.