AUSTIN KRIEGER | firstname.lastname@example.org
On January 20, UW-Parkside students, faculty, and staff received an email headed, “Required Online Program”, which provided a link allowing them to access a UW system-wide initiative branded Think About It. This online program features educational videos and short quizzes related to sexual violence, sexual harassment and drunk driving. Each Think About It program is specific to each participant, based on their birthdate and year in school.
Think About It must be completed before students are allowed to register for summer or fall classes, which some students disagreed with. Steve Wallner, Dean of Students and the office of the Dean of Students was responsible with the designation of this program to students, faculty and staff. Dean Wallner stated that UW-Parkside was also the part of the last group of UW campuses to move forward with this initiative, which led to its arrival this spring term.
Think About It is part of the development of Ray Cross’, president of the UW systems, task force on sexual violence and harassment started in July 2014. This task force, co-headed by Petra Roter, Special Assistant to the UW system’s Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, and Anne Bilder, Senior System Legal Counsel, provides recommendations to UW campuses on how to further research attitude and prevalence of such cases on college campuses, as well as provide methods of fostering relationships between surrounding communities and between students on campus to raise awareness and evaluate policies and practices on the topic.
This program is more relevant than it appears to be to some students. Reported on http://www.justice.gov, a study, gathered from nine campuses, shows an average of around 21% of undergraduate women reported experiencing sexual assault since entering college. Numbers of non-heterosexual female reports were significantly higher. Being a victim of sexual assault, rape or harassment can lead to problems concerning a victim’s education, mental and emotional health or possibly developing depression or anxiety disorders.
We were able to reach out to UW-Parkside students about their thoughts on Think About It. Lisandra Saldivar, a freshman, had this to say, “To us [students], we probably think it’s stupid, but I think that it opens our eyes to these things that do happen and that we really do need to be responsible about it. Even though we think that we know what to do, we still need to be conscious and be smart about what we do.”
Though some had different opinions, like junior Victor Vera: “I think it’s just common sense. I don’t think we needed to do two hours of it. I think it was a bit too much.”
Despite differing opinions on the topic numbers, it shows that sexual violence, harassment and similar crimes are something that should have a light shed on them to educate people on what they may not know or remind them of what they do. In addition to educating students and faculty, programs such as Think About It align with the recommendations of the US Department of Justice and Department of Education for college campuses across the country, as part of the Grants to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking on Campus provided by the Justice Department.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WWW.CAMPUSCLARITY.COM