The U.S. Naval Academy is hoping that a new sexual harassment program beginning next fall will not only quell the rash of harassment and assault at the school, but that it will improve their not-so-hot image.
The academy’s athletes have been accused of sexual misconduct, a former medical officer was charged with taping midshipmen having sex, a link was made between an instructor and a prostitution ring, and a group of midshipmen was blamed for raunchy behavior on a spring break cruise.
Critics say the academy is struggling to get recommendations aimed at addressing sexual harassment through to students in their late teens and early twenties.
Supporters, including women who graduated this spring, say the bad publicity indicates the academy is pushing forward to make changes at the 162-year-old institution.
Debby Tucker, executive director of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, says of the program, “[Peer training has] been shown to make a difference, so they are starting to experiment, so I’m optimistic on that level…There is stuff happening. I just think we all want it to happen faster.”
Women only make up 20 percent of the student body, and the academy has struggled with sexual harassment issues for more than 30 years.