Sexual assault course now mandatory at Oklahoma State
- Oklahoma State is one of 71 schools under investigation by the federal government for alleged Title IX violations.
- The idea for the course came from the OSU student government.
Oklahoma State University—one of 71 schools currently under a Title IX investigation by the federal government—is requiring all students to take a course on sexual violence and harassment.
In a recent email to all undergraduate and graduate students, OSU mandates that all students must take the 40-minute online course in order to register for classes.
Under OSU’s “alcohol education,” the sexual assault course will include confidential surveys “to help personalize [students’] experience and measure students’ attitudes and behaviors.” The course website says the school will only be able to receive the survey information about the student body as a whole and “will never see individual responses."
Carrie Hulsey-Greene, a university spokesperson, told Campus Reform in an interview that the school will use the analytics compiled through the course to use in tweaking its approach to students in future years concerning sexual assaults.
The online course, which tackles a variety of scenarios from house parties to stalking to dating abuse, does have a final exam, but it is ungraded.
"[The final exam] is more about making sure students are understanding the statistics," Hulsey-Greene said.
OSU student Nadir Nibras pushed legislation through the student government in April and started a coalition of students—One Is Too Many: OSU Alliance—to push the idea for a mandatory sexual assault course to the school's administration.
“[S]tudents need to learn to promote a culture where sexist attitudes, violence and victim-blaming is not tolerated,” Nibras, president of a men’s advocacy group on campus to prevent sexual assault, wrote in an op-ed for the school newspaper at the time.
According to Hulsey-Greene, while OSU did push sexual assault prevention training in previous years through orientation and resident life, there was no surefire way to ensure that "every student had been exposed to proper education and training in sexual assault prevention."
"I see a need for [this mandatory course] at all universities across the country," she said.
OSU says they hope the course, titled “Haven—Understanding Sexual Assault,” will encourage students to hold each other accountable as well as increase the number of sexual assaults reported. It will be implemented in the coming school year at OSU's main campus as well as the university's branch campuses after about a year of testing.
OSU has contracted with EverFi, an education technology company, to provide the course material for $45,000. Hulsey-Greene said a large sum of that fee was paid for by a grant from the Merrick Foundation, a local foundation that promotes health and wellness initiatives. The rest of the money was budgeted through the office of the Vice President of Student Affairs.
Hulsey-Greene said that each year the cost of the class will go down; it is the most expensive the first year in order to implement the program.
The course is a part of OSU’s “1 is 2 Many” campaign, billed as its effort to comply with the Office for Civil Rights—the federal agency investigating the university—and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
“1 is 2 Many” is also the name of Vice President Joe Biden’s initiative to end violence against women. Biden, who introduced VAWA to Congress in 1990, has been an outspoken advocate for colleges to take more steps to end campus sexual assaults.
In April, the White House unveiled its new website, NotAlone.gov, to provide resources for schools and victims of sexual assault, claiming one in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college.
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