Not all compliant in sex assault education

Jackie Nevarez

More than 25 percent of first-year students have not completed required sexual assault education programs.

First-year students are required to complete two online programs: AlcoholEdu for College and Haven ­— Understanding Sexual Assault, to create a safe community and promote well-being on campus, according to the Wellness Promotion website. Both programs were made available on Aug. 3, and will remain open all semester, according to the NIU Wellness Promotion website.

As of Oct. 16, there is 74 percent compliance of required alcohol and sexual assault education programs for first-year students, which should be completed Friday, said Wellness Promotion director Donna Schoenfeld at a conference for faculty and staff looking to obtain resources on how to support sexual assault survivors. Students who are required to complete the online programs and have not done so have a hold on their registration, Schoenfeld said.

“We need to get in front of the students with the messages before they get here. … The first six weeks is when students are most vulnerable on campus,” Schoenfeld said. “So if we can get students to take these online modules before they get here or a few weeks into the semester, we’re getting ahead of that learning curve for them in terms of healthier decision making.”

AlcoholEdu for College is an online program designed to lessen negative outcomes of alcohol amongst students, according to EverFi, the creator of the program. The program is the most widely used of its kind in higher education, providing a personal and interactive experience to the user depending on drinking choices, according to the website.

Haven — Understanding Sexual Assault, also created by EverFi, addresses issues of sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking and sexual harassment. The program reaches more than 700,000 people at more than 650 institutions in the United States, according to EverFi.

Conference

Schoenfeld was one of six panelists and guests who spoke on topics related to supporting survivors and removing barriers at an Oct. 16 conference. The conference, open to faculty and staff looking for resources and training on how to support sexual assault survivors, saw a crowd of about 50.

President Doug Baker said the conference topic was of interest to him for a long time as a teacher of human resources and having studied sexual harassment for 15 years.

“So it’s really been of interest to me, and also been one personally, having two daughters and watch[ing] them grow up,” Baker said.

Baker talked about NIU’s new consent definition, released Oct. 1, which describes consent as “a clear, unambiguous, informed and voluntary agreement between all participants to knowingly engage in sexual activity,” according to NIU’s Annual Safety and Security Report.

Kristen Myers, director for the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality, said a campus climate survey on sexual assault has been developed for NIU students and may be mandatory for students to take.

“To make it mandatory means you’re going to see what your campus is like for better, for worse,” Myers said. “We really don’t know what our campus is like right now. We hear stuff, but we don’t have systematic data of all students… .”

Part II of the conference will be held in the spring semester, most likely in February, and will discuss issues of NIU and compliance with The Clery Act, Title IX and student conduct, said media studies professor Laura Vazquez, who made opening remarks at the conference.

“My hope, by doing this today, was that we look around and say, ‘Oh, I know you and I and we agree on this,’ and we begin to create a community of change and support for this,” Vazquez said.