Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Sexual assault prevention training on campus

This screenshot from the University of Southern Maine's website shows that the training is considered to be &quotmandatory," but many students are getting away with not completing the training and USM administration is doing nothing about it.
University of Southern Maine Website
This screenshot from the University of Southern Maine's website shows that the training is considered to be "mandatory," but many students are getting away with not completing the training and USM administration is doing nothing about it.

Posted on February 03, 2017 in News
By USM Free Press

By: River Plouffe Vogel, Free Press Staff

The University of Southern Maine hopes to provide fair, safe and equal education to all students. Protecting as well educating the student body is one way to do that. USM offers students to take an online sexual assault prevention training course, which is required of all university employees and students.

The online trainings are created by a group called Student Success, which works with the university in creating training modules that best fit the student body. Student Success has access to MaineStreet, where they post who has completed the trainings. Currently, however, there is no penalty if a student does not complete the trainings.

The 2016 Annual Safety Report from the university lists that there were five “forcible sexual offenses” in the residence halls in Gorham in 2015. Sarah Holmes, assistant dean of students and Deputy Title IX coordinator, said the numbers may be higher, as sexual assault often goes unreported.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five college women will be sexually assaulted on campus, as well as one in sixteen for men. Ninety percent of sexual assaults are reported by the victims. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of eighteen.

Sexaul assault’s prevalence and impact on so many college communities has caused controversy at many universities, especially within the last year after a list of those charged with Title IX violations was released by the Department of Education. Many high profile schools, including Harvard College, Harvard Law School and Sarah Lawrence College, made the list.

USM has stated that “all USM community members are required to complete the [sexual assault prevention training] course.” Holmes explained that all incoming first year students, most student athletes, any students involved in fraternity or sorority life and many other student groups receive the sexual assault prevention training  in person.

Holmes went on to explain how the university is continuing to expand its outreach and to open  avenues for dialogue, with the hopes that more students will become active in educating members of the USM community when it comes to speaking out about sexual violence. These trainings are also offered throughout the year by Sarah and other staff members.

The video takes an hour to complete and gives the viewer first-hand accounts of sexual assault, solutions to difficult situations and also includes information and knowledge surrounding the topics of sexual assault. Some of the material can elicit past memories of experiences in the viewer, and the video warns the viewer beforehand if there might be something triggering or too difficult to watch.

Jeffrey Ahlquist, treasurer of the student senate, member of a USM fraternity and an RA on the Gorham campus, explained why he believes it’s important for students to take this training:

“Especially on campus, these issues can be very real to many people and only by educating ourselves can we help to face and solve them. The videos do a great job of giving the student’s real life examples and providing real life solutions.”