While Colorado College students came together last semester to discuss the hook-up culture on campus as part of the “Courageous Conversations” series, a larger conversation amongst students about sex and relationships has been happening both on and off campus.

Colorado College was invited last year to collaborate with the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in a long-term project funded by the Mellon Foundation Grant for Civil-Military Academic Cooperation.

The collaboration aims to engage CC students and Air Force cadets in conversations regarding their different and similar experiences with sexuality, dating, and campus life. Approximately $3,000 has been awarded to promote both social and formal academic exploration of the cultural differences between civil and military institutions.

Tara Misra, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator at Colorado College, is one of three leaders supervising the collaboration. Alongside her are Dr. David McCone and Dr. Karin DeAngelis, both of which are professors at USAFA in Behavioral Sciences and Sociology, respectively.

“The CC students and USAFA cadets are so busy that they get too few opportunities to interact with others in the community,” said McCone. “The two institutions seem worlds apart, but, in reality, they have a lot in common. And both groups genuinely want to address the problems associated with sexual harassment and assault.”

Misra states that this partnership between CC and USAFA is unique compared to other Mellon Foundation Grant projects because the emphasis is placed more upon the daily lives of the students, rather than through a historical or war-related lens.

“We’re only in the beginning stages, but I really hope to see it grow,” said Misra. “We might still be in the social aspect for now, but I hope it will build and impact some of USAFA’s policies and approaches, as well as some of ours.”

Events coordinated through the collaboration have included campus tours, social dinners, and roundtable discussions about experiences with sexual violence. A few cadets even attended the annual “Classy Christmas” Holiday Party on the CC campus.

CC Sophomore McKenna Becker, member of the Student Organization for Sexual Safety, actively participates in the collaboration. Becker has been surprised by the differences in sexual culture on each campus.

“We take for granted the fact that you can get a condom on any resident hall desk or pretty much anywhere on campus,” said Becker. “On the USAFA campus, there is no access to contraception.”

Upcoming collaborative events include a visit to the USAFA campus on Feb. 12 and an open invitation to Misra’s upcoming presentations, “Fifty Shades of Say What Now?” on Feb. 18, and “It’s Not You, It’s Me: Ending a Relationship with Dignity and Respect” on March 3.

Participation in the program is open to all CC students, and anyone who is interested should contact Tara Misra at tara.misra@coloradocollege.edu.

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