This past Tuesday, Aug. 18, the Office of Prevention Services sent out an invitation to the entire student body to complete an online sexual assault prevention training. In an email from Sexual Assault Services and Prevention Specialist Sheila McMahon and Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness Sheryl Sousa, the sentiments of Louis Brandeis were invoked as the reason why the campus needs to be active in preventing sexual misconduct and make the campus safer for everyone.
Created by Get Inclusive, an organization that designs bystander intervention and sexual assault prevention trainings for colleges and organizations, the 20-30 minute module contains a series of short videos explaining aspects of consent, bystander prevention and sexual assault. Additionally, surveys, quizzes and short-answer questions are administered around different scenarios that might occur on a college campus. Although the survey portion was anonymous, students have to create an account with Get Inclusive to complete the entire training, as well as accept the university’s statement regarding sexual violence, and receive a “Certificate of Completion,” which can be downloaded as a PDF.
“The aim of the module is to provide baseline training on sexual misconduct to all new and returning students. Consistent with our goals and values, and to be in compliance with Clery Act regulations, this training provides our students with definitions of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and consent,” McMahon said in an email statement to The Brandeis Hoot. “We’re offering this online training as an introduction for everyone. After an extensive review of online trainings available, this training was selected because it allowed us to extensively customize our Brandeis-specific content; the company was very respectful of our concerns about avoiding the gender binary.”
The module includes many examples outside of the gender binary, as well as a discussion in the introductory video of how it will be mostly avoided, but warns how it might be present at some points in the training. Additionally, a trigger warning is present at the beginning of the training module.
“They provide not only a report but also the raw data about our students’ experience with the training, which is critical to our ongoing discernment process regarding the most efficacious way for us to provide training to our community in ways that reflect our values of social justice and inquiry,” McMahon shared in her email. This connects to the original email sent to the entire campus community about why this training is necessary.
Also in the community-wide email was the mention of this training being mandatory, stating that it would have to be completed by Aug. 27, the first day of classes. McMahon, however, softened this requirement in her email to The Hoot. She mentioned that students who do not complete this training from Get Interactive by Aug. 27 will be invited to participate in another form of campus training. These forms include “bystander education (led by peer Bystander Trainers); workshops on consent and healthy relationships (coordinated by the RCC student staffers and advocates) and combined sexual assault prevention / alcohol education with Noel Coakley [a counselor at the PCC] and me.”
The Office of Prevention Services sent out a campus climate survey in April of last semester that featured a thorough inquiry into what students think of sexual misconduct and how to react to situations. This data is still being analyzed, according to McMahon, so it did not affect the nature of this training. The Office of Prevention Services though did refer to information from a Spring 2014 survey administered to students that showed that Brandeis students were interested in receiving more sexual violence prevention training.
“It is not possible to predict how the training will impact the handling of sexual misconduct cases in the future, but I hope that the survey data from this online training will help us better understand students’ attitudes and experiences so that we can continue to develop our adjudication processes to meet the needs of our students,” McMahon concluded.