Education & Prevention

Education and prevention tools are an important part of avoiding and responding to instances of sexual harm, and the Sexual Respect Team in the Department of Student Health and Wellness’ Office of Health Promotion serves as the primary lead for prevention efforts at UVA.

These guidelines and strategies are intended to promote a community of care both on and off-Grounds. The University of Virginia is devoted to creating and maintaining an environment where you feel heard, respected, and safe, and where you have the opportunity to thrive and grow. 

As a member of our community, it is also your role to ensure that you maintain this environment for others as well as yourself, and we appreciate your commitment to our community of care.

To learn more about UVA's offered trainings for students, staff, and resident assistances, please see our CavCare Trainings page.

Sexual Respect

The University of Virginia aims to prevent sexual harm in our community through a variety of initiatives and evidence-informed interventions. These efforts include education and awareness programs, internships, interventions, and applied research. Through this work, we are creating and sustaining a community of care and sexual respect.  

Overall, we frame our work with a paradigm of sexual respect, which affirms an individual’s exercise of choice regarding their own self, body, and sexuality and promotes a culture built on trust, communication, and healthy relationships. 

Collaborative consent constitutes on-going communication between an individual and any partners built on mutual respect, honesty, and trust. In it, you and your partner(s) are affirmed to exercise your freedom regarding desires and preferences in any given moment or situation. 

It means, as an individual at UVA, changing the culture of sexual respect, it starts from the ground up.
Liv Orlando, School of Architecture

Hoos Got Your Back (HGYB) Video

Video file
Hoos Got Your Back Video Transcript

What does it mean to have someone's back?

  • “To me, to have someone’s back is really just to be there for them when they need you”
  • “I think having someone’s back means checking in with the people around you, honestly
  • whether you know them or not. In one specific moment or over a period of time. Just
  • making sure they’re okay.”
  • “Trusting that instinct when you feel like something is off to go and help somebody even
  • if you don’t know them”
  • “In my opinion, it’s also understanding that person’s boundaries and knowing how to
  • respect that person’s boundaries as well.”
  • “It means that as an individual at UVA, changing the culture of sexual respect, it starts
  • from the ground up.”
  • “I think Having someone’s back at UVA means creating a safe environment to learn.
  • And having an environment in which we acknowledge we’re human and treat each other
  • as such.”

Why is it important to have someone's back?

  • “It’s really important that everyone feels safe and respected so that they can bring their
  • true, authentic selves to whatever situation that they’re in.”
  • “If I know that there’s a culture here where people are looking out for me and I’m looking
  • out for other people, then I feel free to live my best life.”
  • “I agree, having each other’s back really leads to having the trust within the community.
  • I feel like that leads to the ability to walk down the street or have a conversation in class
  • or just like have fun without fear of something happening.”
  • “I think it’s important to have each other’s back because at the end of the day the goal
  • as a school, as a community, is to create just the background of a community of love,
  • care, of guidance …so that everyone can feel safe within this environment and at all
  • times.”
  • “Having each other’s back makes sure that everyone is seen so that you know you’re not
  • alone in the situation, that everyone has someone to look out for them.”
  • “It’s all about everyone being able to reach their fullest potential at UVa and we can’t do
  • that without everyone feeling respected and safe.”
  • “ helps people feel like UVA is a home rather than just a school they just go to” …
  • “We’re all on this journey together so why not have each other’s back on the way?”

Group shouts: “Hoos got your back!”

History of University of Virginia Sexual Harm Prevention Efforts 

In 2014, #HoosGotYourBack (#HGYB) began as a student initiative dedicated to raising awareness about the issue of sexual harm as part of the Green Dot Bystander Intervention Program in the Office of the Dean of Students. The primary purpose of Green Dot was to train the UVA community and local merchants in active bystandership. The UVA community and local merchants demonstrated their support for a harm free Grounds by wearing their #HGYB t-shirts on designated days to signify that we all have got each other’s back. 

In 2018, #HGYB moved under the Office of Health Promotion, and became Hoos Got Your Back (HGYB). The name shift signified transitioning from the Green Dot bystander program to one more focused on more holistic public health approaches to preventing sexual harm, including trainings for all first year and transfer students, as well as multiple student groups, including athletic programs, fraternities, and sororities. 

In 2020, the Office of Health Promotion created the Sexual Respect team to expand its prevention efforts beyond Hoos Got Your Back. The team has created dedicated programs focused on positive relationships, healthy masculinity, collaborative consent, and sexual health education and integrated digital health topics into existing programs. The Office of Health Promotion expanded research and assessment, internship opportunities, for credit academic classes and strategic planning with partners across UVA to address sexual harm and promote sexual respect from multiple avenues. 

Additional Resources