University pilots online training initiative
The University began an online training initiative this month in order to comply with the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act to educate the student body on issues surrounding sexual assault. Returning students received an email with a link to the program, which is run through the online service Get Inclusive, on August 18th.
The program, which takes about 20 minutes to complete, covers subjects including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and consent. “Because the requirements are stringent and we need to demonstrate that we've reached all of our students, we're offering this online training as an introduction for everyone,” wrote Sexual Assault Services and Prevention Specialist Sheila McMahon in an email to the Justice.
The Campus SaVE Act was passed in 2013, adding additional regulations to the preexisting Clery Act under Title IX. The law requires colleges and universities to provide programming for students and employees addressing issues of sexual violence. The school must provide primary prevention and awareness programs, bystander intervention training, information on risk reduction and abusive behavior and ongoing prevention and awareness programs.
The Get Inclusive training program combines videos, surveys, readings and activities to teach about sexual assault and related issues. It has several sections, including a survey at the beginning asking questions about students’ opinions on issues of sexual assault and harassment, and then ending with the same survey to measure the change in opinion after completing the program.
The training was also very careful with definitions, staying away from terminology along the gender binary as much as possible. It opened with a blurb explaining, “We have tried our best to limit the use of gendered pronouns but you may still encounter a few places where we failed. We hope that you can forgive us and not let this distract you from the underlying message that it takes an entire community to uphold norms and promote bystander intervention.
"This is not a ‘he’ vs. ‘she’ discussion ... It is an ‘us’ discussion.”
The program also defined certain words that are used in the Rights and Responsibilities Handbook, such as harassment, stalking and “non-consensual intercourse,” among others. It went on to educate on topics such as bystander intervention, empathy for victims and risk reduction.
McMahon wrote that this program was selected over other options on the market because it was customizable to Brandeis-specific content and the company respected concerns regarding gender-binary language.
Get Inclusive was also chosen because it provides a report on the data from the program, as well as students’ experience with the training.
McMahon wrote that this is important because “we will carefully review responses from our students about the training; the feedback will help us shape the content and scope of future training offerings.”
She also wrote that students who do not complete the online training will receive a follow-up invitation from her to participate in other trainings on campus, such as bystander training, workshops on consent and healthy relationships and sexual assault prevention and alcohol awareness workshops.
McMahon explained that because the training is online, it is distinct from traditional bystander education.
“The online training only presents an overview of the topic, and while it does provide written reflection opportunities, it doesn't provide the in-person bystander skill-building that we do in the peer-led bystander education program.”
However, she wrote, “We're currently in the process of recruiting and training new student leaders to become bystander trainers.”