News » Student Life | Oct. 1
Members of the Class of 2017 were required to complete a new online Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources and Education course — along with the traditional AlcoholEdu — prior to their arrival on campus this year.
The course, called “Unless There’s Consent,” aims to educate students on sexual assault and sexual harassment but also covers domestic violence, stalking and the idea of consent. The course is part of an expansion in SHARE’s programming that includes plans for a training program for second-semester juniors.
“When people are coming from all across the country and the world, we’re finding that there are a lot of different ways of understanding consent and these issues,” Jacqueline Deitch-Stackhouse, director of SHARE, explained. “We wanted to make sure all people came to campus with an understanding of all things related to power-based personal violence so that people know what needs to be done to keep themselves and others safe.”
This March, before the course was implemented, results of a 2008 University survey were made public, indicating that approximately 15 percent of female undergraduates said they experienced non-consensual vaginal penetration during their time at Princeton.
The 90-minute program consists of a pre-test, followed by seven to 10 modules on topics such as sexual assault, harassment, domestic violence and consent. Like AlcoholEdu, the course ends with a post-test that requires a certain percentage to pass. The introductory material presented in “Unless There’s Consent” was followed up by “The Way You Move,” formerly called “Sex on a Saturday Night,” SHARE’s annual presentation during freshman week.
Deitch-Stackhouse added that she has not yet had time to analyze the data but has heard varying feedback. She said some students have commented that 90 minutes is too long, but she noted that some of the topics presented are intense for incoming students who have never been exposed to material on sexual harassment before. She added that students are learning and that the scores on the test taken at the end of the course show significant improvement over the pre-test scores.
As SHARE only got approval from the administration during the summer to run the program, students did not know that they would be taking the course until August, Deitch-Stackhouse noted, adding that some freshmen may have been nonplussed by the last-minute notification.
Daniel Rounds ’17 said that while some of the information presented in “Unless There’s Consent” was common knowledge, the program also “provided a lot of information relevant to situations people would get themselves into on campus.” He added, however, that he thought that the information was presented in a way that was tedious and hard to get through.
“The program had us thinking about the issue and started conversations about sexual assault being a problem on campus,” Christina Rice ’17 said. She added that while a lot of the information presented to her in the course was information she already knew, she was impressed that SHARE had managed to present a dialogue about the issue.
The idea for the program came from various sources, Deitch-Stackhouse said. She explained that she had been working closely with Institutional Equity and Diversity since early 2012, but that the provost’s office had been looking to institute a course before then. Support for implementation of the program came from the University administration, a focus group held last April and Sexual Misconduct Preventions, Policies, Programs.
Deitch-Stackhouse noted that SHARE also hopes to coordinate “Agent for Change,” a program on power-based personal violence for second-semester juniors, but added that this program would differ substantially from the freshman course. “Agent for Change” would be 45 minutes instead of 90, she explained, and, instead of simply providing facts about power-based personal violence, students would participate in an avatar-based game in which they would be evaluated on the degree to which they are “agents of change.”
“Students have varying developmental needs as they progress through their four years. By junior year, most people are in a strong position to take what they know and apply it in an influential way,” Deitch-Stackhouse explained, adding that many students have taken on leadership roles by their junior spring.
“Our hope is that if juniors are exposed to this type of education, then they can create safer environments for themselves or for others,” she said.
Whether the Class of 2018 will also have to take “Unless There’s Consent” next year has not yet been determined, Deitch-Stackhouse said. She explained that SHARE will see what the evaluations say, what kind of learning is happening and whether any other new training materials come on the market.
“We want to make sure that our students get what they need and that they can be prepared as possible prior to their arrival,” Deitch-Stackhouse said.