Passive training isn’t the key to preventing sexual assaults
One in five women are sexually assaulted on college campuses nationwide. At UH, there were 11 cases of rape and 13 cases of fondling on campus in 2018 reported to UHPD, according to the 2019 annual security and fire safety report.
This is the reality of what students must endure. Universities should do everything in their power to help survivors and prevent assault, but UH doesn’t necessarily rise to the occasion on this issue.
Salutations is the online program freshmen must complete in the fall. The program is a video about basic college safety, defining words like “consent” and asking students what their perception of consent is. After the video, students take a quiz and then they’re done.
This is helpful in a lot of ways and it features commentary from UH students, which grounds the program into the community.
The problem with the training is student passivity. All students do is watch a video and take a quiz without engaging in any real conversation about the topics at hand.
“Obviously, the stuff is important, but I wouldn’t say the training was impactful,” said civil engineering junior Gilbert Badillo. “I knew I wouldn’t do anything like that so the training felt pointless for me.”
There are 46,000 students at UH, in-person training would be hard to pull off but students should still contribute. If, after the video, students are surveyed to gauge any shifts in attitudes then that would show the impact the training has. Surveys are also a relatively cheap way to allow students to be more engaged with the material.
Additionally, while Salutations endorses intervening in stopping sexual misconduct, it does not give much information on how to do so.
The training on campus focuses on telling people to always ask for consent, which of course is a good thing. However, many students know about consent so treating them as a potential perpetrator is not effective. Instead, this program should teach bystander intervention techniques, which would work better and encourages viewers to take action when seeing signs of sexual misconduct.
Bystander intervention scenarios teach people how to effectively deescalate a situation while also correcting misconceptions that might keep people from intervening.
Many, if not most, know somebody who has been sexually assaulted, and this is just a sad truth. If the University taught students how to prevent these things, it would create a whole population of students who are knowledgeable and know how to stop incidents before they happen across the campus.
Sexual assault is a major problem on college campuses and it’s the University’s duty to ensure the safety of their students, which in this case, means changing prevention training to give students a more active role in preventing sexual assaults.
Opinion writer Anna Baker is an English sophomore who can be reached at [email protected]