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The Blue & Gray Press | August 19, 2017

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Staff Ed: Mandatory sexual assault course overlooked by student body

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.

Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Students are resenting it because it is just one more thing on their to-do list, and honestly the h/w and test prep is more important than an inline survey that takes almost three hours to complete. No thank you.

  2. Blair G

    While I do believe that an online course was probably not the best way to go about this I can’t think of any other way to do it that would make it easy for the university to keep up with who has and has not taken the course. The email may say that it takes 2.5 hours to complete but I believe I finished it within an hour. Also, much of the information wasn’t really anything new. I feel like it was a repeat of everything that has been preached to us since high school. The complaint that it is just another thing on a to-do list is a bit absurd. We were sent the course with more than enough to complete it before regular course work became a bit too ridiculous. Like with all school work, if you wait to the last minute to do something then you’re screwing yourself. I do not think it is a valid excuse to not do something because you didn’t have enough time with all your school work when it was sent to us the week after syllabus week.

  3. Melissa

    Problem #1….NOWHERE in the emails does it state that this course is MANDATORY, or that there will be consequences for not completing it.

    Problem #2…see Problem #1

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