Tackling Sexual Assault Training in College

At the beginning of each year, every student at the University of San Diego is required to complete an online course through CampusClarity. This course is supposed to provide students with precautionary information on alcohol, drugs, and sexual violence in the university setting.

In the hopes of lowering the risk of unsafe situations on campus, taking a course on how to navigate drinking, sex and alcohol is now mandatory at many universities. Although many argue that they are important, these mandated training programs tend to have a negative connotation. Many students dread the daunting emails stating it’s time to complete their student wellness program again.         

Sophomore Brianna Larosiliere explained that she sees the online training as ineffective.

“[The program] is dumb,” Larosiliere said. “I don’t even pay attention to half the stuff because it’s boring and the same from year to year.”

Although many students see the value of this type of training, others, like Larosiliere, expressed that the sexual assault training is not effective enough.

Helen Kaiser, USD’s Title IX Compliance and Education Specialist, and Nicole Schuessler, USD’s Title IX Coordinator,  explained the reasoning behind USD’s approach to sex, drugs, and alcohol. The online training that USD distributes is from a vendor named CampusClarity that was created by faculty, staff, and students from the University of San Francisco.

Kaiser explained that USD has concluded this program is the best way to reach the entire campus community.

“USD does not tolerate sexual misconduct and relationship violence and has implemented a comprehensive effort that reinforces a culture of prevention, response and accountability that ensures the safety, dignity, and well-being of all members of our community,” Kaiser said.

In an effort to create this culture of care, USD incorporates workshops, events, and training about sexual violence. For example, earlier this month, USD hosted a workshop called “Only With Consent” to discuss healthy relationships, consent, and sexual assault prevention.

Although USD seems to express that this is the best way to educate the student body about hazardous behaviors, there are alternatives that a majority of students at other universities typically enjoy.

When comparing USD’s process to other schools on the West Coast for insight on different ways to approach wellness education, a few stuck out.

The University of Southern California (USC) has a similar process to ours. USC senior Moriah Schindle shared a familiar frustration when it comes to this online training.

“Your freshman year […] you have to take an alcohol education course,” Schindler said. “I don’t think it’s effective at all. It’s long and tedious, and everyone dreads it.”

Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU), a small campus on the cliffs of San Diego, doesn’t incorporate training   into  its required material   for   incoming freshmen.

According to PLNU attendees and its Public Safety report, sexual assault training is never required. However, students that violate conduct policies could face immediate explusion.

PLNU sophomore Ashten Stein noted that the school doesn’t believe the training is necessary.

“The school assumes sex isn’t happening, and we sign a contract before attending the school saying we will not partake in drugs and alcohol,” Stein said.

While an online course tends to be the most common way to introduce wellness education on campuses, the University of Oregon (U of O). has created a new way to bring awareness to the increasingly large issues of sexual assault, drinking and drugs.

The university’s program, Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team (SWAT) attempts to establish a different way of educating the student body about the importance of campus wide respect.

SWAT is unique because at summer orientation, students are shown a play portraying real life scenarios. The examples show the right and wrong ways they hope students handle these situations.

Charlie Landerose, an active member of SWAT stated that the format of the training sets it apart from programs at other schools.

“We are first and foremost sex educators,” Landerose said. “We use theater and other interactive techniques to discuss consent, healthy boundaries, drugs and alcohol, bystander intervention, and sexual assault prevention. We also discuss ways to support survivors and resources on campus and the greater community.”

With humor and interesting facts, SWAT provides fun and easy ways to communicate to students. In addition, SWAT goes into classes, creating a more personal interaction.

Katie Quick, an incoming student at U of O, enjoyed the training.

“I thought the SWAT [program] was a great way to inform students about the topic because it was entertaining, which kept people watching, while also conveying a message,” Quick said.

Junior Alex Wunder said that this type of interactive program could improve USD’s wellness training.

“I think [it’s] a great idea because then it’s more useful and more fun than what it is now,” Wunder said.

Although many people explained that they feel that an interactive alternative to wellness education would be an improvement, others are unsure.

Sophomore Riley Lewis questioned whether this type of approach would work in practice.

“I don’t know,” Lewis said. “I picture students going [to the demonstration] with their friends and fooling around the whole time, making a joke about it.”

While it’s unclear if this type of approach would be practical to implement at USD, many students stated that there needs to be a change to the way we handle sexual health, alcohol, and drug awareness. Effective training, or a lack thereof, can have a direct impact on the wellness of all students at a university. USD  may need to consider reconstructing its seemingly ineffective training program.

By Lindsey Aiello, Contributor