Academy hosts its first SHARP conference
By Kathy Eastwood
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Nov. 6, 2013) —Academy leadership, faculty members, graduates and cadets attended a SHARP summit Oct. 24-25 to assess the installation’s current Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention program.
“This is the first actual SHARP summit that the academy has conducted,” retired Col. Laureen Barone, Sexual Assault Response coordinator and U.S. Military Academy Class of 1983 graduate, said. “In the past, I believe, topics were covered under the leadership conferences and some under the Simon Center for Professional Military Ethic. Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr. directed this particular summit. The leadership and Lt. Gen. Caslen’s number one priority is to ensure the academy is on track to eliminate sexual harassment and assault from the ranks of our cadets and Soldiers. We take this very seriously.”
Barone said the purpose of the summit was to get an assessment of where the SHARP program is, where it needs to be and how to get there. Topics discussed included education, training and prevention, especially concerning cadets, the various subcultures and misleading information on blogs and social media outlets.
“How do we get the word out?” Barone said.
One way to stem the tide of any misinformation is the CASH/A or Cadets Against Sexual Harassment and Assault program that began and is run by cadets.
“A group of cadets came forward last year and proposed this program to the administration,” Barone said. “They wanted to be a part of the solution to the education of their peers with best practices, policies and procedures to help prevent sexual harassment and assault. Cadets are taking ownership of what works well and what is not working well, and they are making recommendations in improvements in terms of education. Every month, cadets pick a topic for discussion. It is addressed at the unit or cadet company level with CASH/A representatives leading the discussions.”
In attendance at the summit was Class of 2014 Cadet Havana Schmidt, the brigade CASH/A officer.
Schmidt said the summit was an enriching experience for all of the cadets involved.
“Interfacing with civilians, retired graduates and active-duty graduates about sexual harassment/sexual assault response and prevention was extremely informative and helpful,” Schmidt said. “I learned a lot about how to possibly supplement and improve what we are already doing, and I received some great new ideas from the presentations on the final day.”
Schmidt said she linked up with the U.S. Naval Academy officer representative equivalent to CASH/A and plans to start an inter-academy conversation about the issues and collaborate on how to make education and training better for both cadets and midshipmen.
Academy leadership, faculty members, graduates and cadets attended a SHARP summit Oct. 24-25 to assess the installation’s current Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention program.
The inaugural SHARP summit was conducted Oct. 24-25 at the West Point Club and gathered the community of cadets, service members and civilians to discuss the Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention program at West Point. Class of 2014 Cadet Havana Schmidt, in attendance at the summit, serves as the Corps of Cadets’ first brigade officer for Cadets Against Sexual Harassment and Assault.
Photos by Maj. Keith Scot/West Point PAO
As the CASH/A officer, her primary duties have involved planning and executing a Corps-wide CASH/A certification that will ensure the proper execution of training and planning for next semester.
“Next semester is when we will have official CASH/A representatives in positions at the regimental and company levels in addition to a new deputy brigade representative position,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said she was motivated to become involved because she empathizes with the damage that sexual assault can do to individuals and those around them.
“I wanted to take a proactive role in preventing sexual assault and educating people on the damage caused by sexual harassment,” she said. “There is a lot of cynicism about the system due to bad press and poor communication and I believe that CASH/A is ahead of the curve in combating the poor attitude through candid discussions and written communications. We are starting to make some really significant breakthroughs and the Corps is really responding to our cadet-led initiatives.”
Class of 2014 Cadet Lindsey Danilack, brigade commander, attended the summit and came away impressed with how the leadership has a “hands on” approach to the prevention of sexual harassment and assault.
“The summit was a very successful gathering that brought a lot of light to the successes and issues within our program here at West Point,” Danilack said. “With the amount of cadets discussing SHARP with officers, retired graduates and civilians, many ideas and discussions arose. This sparked the fire for further questioning to find out more ways to improve our program. The summit was command driven. The Corps’ highest leadership presence at the summit demonstrated it was a priority on their agenda and an initiative they sought to advance.”
Danilack said that every cadet involved in the CASH/A program sets the example and puts forth the change needed to ensure SHARP is a way of life.
“As first captain, I promote the CASH/A program, stand for the principles it teaches, involve myself in the training, receive feedback from the cadets and inculcate the program’s values into the cadet lifestyle,” she said.
Maj. Missy Rosol, special assistant to the commandant and U.S. Corps of Cadets sexual assault response coordinator, was also impressed with the SHARP summit.
“There was a formal outbrief and pages and pages of great feedback,” Rosol said. “Some things we already have in place and ones we are continuing to develop, but also there were a lot of suggestions. When the leadership is involved, it is a real indication of how important the subject is. It’s great to work in that atmosphere and very inspiring. The cadets see that if this is important to the leadership, it gives that much more importance to the topic.”