By DeJanay Booth, photograph by Mike Galloucis
Cadet Tyler Christy fixed the microphone attached to his uniform. Standing up from the front row of Olive Theater, he turned to face the 200-plus cadets sitting before him. The room had a quiet, attentive atmosphere.
“We as leaders have to step up and make a difference,” said the University of Northern Iowa student. “If we don’t do it, who will?”
The discussion between Christy and the cadets was part of the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention (SHARP) training, mandating for each cadet coming to Cadet Summer Training.
His biggest audience yet, Christy prepared a presentation about sexual assault and harassment on Saturday, June 6. Christy lectured and directed the change in PowerPoint slides, displaying a pyramid of levels from rude jokes, being the lowest point, to the highest point, assault.
“Who thinks where on this pyramid we should intervene if there is a problem?” Christy asked.
A cadet stood up and said to intervene when the problem rose to the pushing and slapping point on the pyramid.
“So if we can stop it at that level, why not stop it at the lowest level?” The room grew silent. A few cadets looked at the ground as if they thought about the question.
To prevent present and future incidents of sexual assault and harassment, training such as SHARP was designed to teach cadets how to react to such encounters among soldiers. Priscilla Ross, a victim advocate for Cadet Command, said in order for SHARP to be successful, cadets need to have knowledge of prevention.
“It’s very important for us to pass this message down because we are trying to reach the level in the Army where we’re getting cultural change,” she said. “We have to reach back to that next generation of young men and women who are getting ready to join the ranks.”
Christy’s presentation on bystander prevention stemmed from a new approach for SHARP training. The training this year featured a cadet leading in discussion about assault and harassment and how to react against violence as a passerby.
Christy said his school volunteered to have a student conduct the training. He took a two-day class and presented his speech to cadre the day before.
“[This training] is very different than what we usually do,” he said. “It gives [the cadets] an idea of how they can actually go about it.”
At the beginning of the SHARP training Maj. Gen. Peggy Combs, the commanding general of Cadet Command and Fort Knox, spoke to the cadets about working harder as a team to prevent such incidents.
“It’s extremely important that you as young leaders understand the problem,” Combs said. “And that you as young leaders in our force are able to stomp it out.”
Accompanying her was Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Arnold. Once Combs finished speaking, Arnold stood straight up and made final remarks.
“I want to make sure we all understand what the general is saying,” Arnold said. “Who is going to stop sexual harassment and sexual assault?” Arnold pointed to a cadet, who stood up to respond.
“We all are, sir,” the cadet said.
“That’s a pretty good answer, but I’m looking for something else.”
He pointed to another cadet who gave a similar answer. A third cadet stood up to give his reply.
“I’m going to stop it, sir,” he said.
“Ownership,” Arnold said with excitement. “We’re going to do it together collectively, but it starts with you. That’s what the CG is trying to get across to you.”
One cadet nodded her head and quietly said, “Hooah,” agreeing with the command sergeant major.