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Program addresses frosh sexual misbehavior

BY KATHLEEN SERINO | MARCH 2, 2009 7:30 AM

In addition to the sexual-harassment education mandated by the UI for faculty and staff, an online program addressing sexual misbehavior for freshmen will soon be introduced.

“The goal is that all the freshmen starting this fall will have exposure to sexual-harassment education,” Provost Wallace Loh said.

He stressed the importance of campus exposure to the certain harassment procedures refined by the UI — specifically, the sexual-assault policies approved in December by the state Board of Regents after investigation into the university’s handling of an alleged Hillcrest sexual assault.

“The laws surrounding [sexual misconduct] are changing very quickly, even in university policy,” Loh said.

Tom Baker, the UI associate dean of students, said his colleagues are looking to provide a freshman sexual-misconduct program to complement AlchoholEDU, an alcohol education and prevention course implemented in fall 2006.

Already in use by St. Cloud State University, the University of Illinois-Springfield, Ohio University, among 22 others, nformd.on.sexual.assault is the mandatory sexual-misconduct program aimed at incoming UI freshmen to complete beginning this fall.

The hour-long program features a pre-test, followed by a video and a multiple-choice post-test created by the online education company nformd.net. The module is research-based, peer-driven, and gender-specific, according to the company’s website.

Monique DiCarlo, the director of the Women’s Resource and Action Center, said the program will address sexual harassment, dating and domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault.

UI nformd coordinator Kristin Wyant said university officials have worked on this provision since last September.

The module will cost the UI roughly $3.95 per freshman, Wyant said, noting that the company’s research has shown positive effects on students who’ve used the program. The UI enrolled 4,246 freshmen last fall.

UI junior Amber Louros said she was unsure how a sexual-misconduct course will be received by incoming freshmen, but said she thinks it would be more effective than the “survey-based” AlcoholEdu program she completed her freshman year.

“It might be more effective than the alcohol program just because a lot of students don’t know that much about the sexual harassment policies the university has,” Louros, 20, said.

But incoming freshman Jacob Yeates said he finds the idea somewhat “ridiculous,” and he thinks his future classmates will be apathetic toward the program.

“We know that it’s wrong,” Yeates, 17, said about sexual misconduct. “Another voice saying that won’t hugely affect anything.”

The City High senior said he thinks the money spent on the nformd.on.sexual.assault program would be more worthwhile if put toward a support group or if it was geared toward younger age groups.

On top of the nformd.on.sexual.assault costs, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Director Jennifer Modestou said the UI is spending $103,448 for a two-year deal with Global Compliance’s online sexual harassment education program.

The online program is one of the three options university faculty and staff are required to fulfill by June. One-third of faculty and staff had already completed their education in some form as of last week.


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