Staff Ed: Mandatory sexual assault course overlooked by student body
By THE BLUE & GRAY PRESS
In light of the multiple issues the University of Mary Washington faced concerning sexual assault this past year, a few new ones have emerged, including a mandatory online course to inform students about sexual assault.
At the end of a rough year, UMW decided to hold each student accountable for knowing about sexual assault issues. The mandatory course titled, “Think About It,” takes roughly two and a half hours to complete, and as many of you were unaware of, if not completed by December will result in a hold on your student account.
As a campus that avidly petitioned for something to be done about these issues, the student body seems to show little concern for the actions being taken. Many students have disregarded emails about the course, while others seem shocked to even hear about it. The invitation to take the course was nothing that piqued the interest of the students, much less excited them.
Perhaps a mandatory course was not the way to enlighten students on issues such as substance abuse, healthy relationships and sexual violence. A better, more engaging option may have been group activities on Ball Circle, or even discussions during mandatory residence hall meetings. While I know there will always be people who will not participate, it seems that that number of people could have been significantly lowered had a mandatory course not been the action decided upon.
While the emails sent to students present “an innovative, engaging, and informative online course,” which may be true, students see it as just another bullet point to add to their to-do list. Promoting things such as working at your own pace and being able to pause and return have had little to no effect on the students, and I venture to say this online course will be quickly completed without much attention to detail.
How much more likely is someone to take in and retain information that is provided in a face-to-face environment, then if they are carelessly scrolling through what is essentially an online questionnaire? I would say the difference between these two options would be vast.
When it comes to heavy issues such as sexual assault, face-to-face interaction and discussion is something to consider, not only to demonstrate its importance but also to grab the students’ attention. Rather than reading about it for two and a half hours, group activities and lectures could have a higher chance of resonating with the student body.