Upperclassmen at the University of Connecticut will be required to complete an online sexual assault module.
“We feel that that’s where we’re going to make a difference is with ongoing training,” Jennifer Longa, Assistant Dean of Students for Victim Support Services and Bystander Initiatives, said.
Not Anymore is an interactive online module that aims to help prevent sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking in a college environment.
The module is already being used in the UConn Graduate School and for undergraduates at universities across the country.
“The graduate school has been really helpful since they’re already doing it, working with us to make sure ours is as smooth starting out,” Longa said.
Longa said that the rationale behind introducing Not Anymore was that the University wanted to provide additional sexual assault and bystander intervention training for students after their first year.
“Freshman year isn’t enough, so the decision was made to have something for upperclassmen as well,” Longa said.
Rising Juniors and Seniors will be required to complete the module and pass the posttest with a score of 85% or higher before registering for classes this year, and rising Juniors will be required to pass the module in the future.
The 2015 Campus Climate Survey indicated that the group that responded that they had been or suspected they had been sexual assaulted had Junior standing.
8.4% of respondents who had Junior standing reported that they were sexually assaulted and 5.1% reported that they suspect they were sexually assaulted, compared to the overall percentages of 5.5% and 2.6% respectively.
However, this does not necessarily indicate that these instances of sexual assault occurred during the students’ junior year.
Longa said that the module fits well with the goals of the recently created Protect Our Pack bystander intervention program.
“The goal of Protect our Pack is not just sexual assault, that’s just one issue and there are so many issues that our students face,” Longa said, “We’re addressing a lot of them and that’s how we’re trying to grow and make change.”
Longa said that Undergraduate Student Government has been working with Student Affairs to get the module implemented.
“We’re working very closely with the student government and they have said that, in their work with students, students want more education and want to know how to make positive change,” Longa said.
USG President Dan Byrd said he thinks the module will help make a positive change on campus.
“I certainly support the idea of the module and I think it is an important step in the fight against sexual assault,” Byrd said.
Not Anymore was selected from a list of similar programs after a group of 41 students from various organizations reviewed them.
The focus group included individuals from the cultural centers, USG, Greek organizations, athletes, honors students and several other groups.
“We tried to think about forming a group representative of the larger student body,” Donais said.
Donais said that students overwhelmingly favored Not Anymore.
“A vast majority of students viewed (Not Anymore) as the most informative, powerful, and likely to spark conversation among their peers,” Donais said.
Donais said that students particularly responded to the inclusion of personal testimonials.
“(Students) Reported that many of the stories allowed them to form an emotional connection to the issues,” Donais said.
Donais said that one of the major pros for the program is that it is customizable, and the introduction video will feature UConn Pack Leaders.
“Students will be able to see not only their peers but also a campus that they’re familiar with,” Donais said.
Donais said that she is excited at the prospect of incorporating a new element of Not Anymore that is geared towards international students.
“We’ve long felt that that’s really important, what we were doing with the domestic FYEs was literally and figuratively not translating with the international population,” Donais said, “I think that it makes a world of difference when students see students they can identify with talking about an issue that they have a stake in.”
Donais said that the module goes into greater depth on several issues that are not emphasized during first year training.
“I think we also wanted to cover some content areas that perhaps we don’t have the opportunity to do as much with in those early preventative efforts, particularly relationship dating and domestic violence, sexual harassment, and stalking,” Donais said, “Certainly those things are covered in orientation, but these modules really help take a deeper dive.”
Donais said that one criticism she has of the module is its emphasis on empathizing with victims of sexual assault when one imagines them to be a close friend or family member.
“It’s important for us to have empathy for those we may not have an intimate connection to because no one deserves to be victimized regardless of who they are in relation to you,” Donais said.
Donais said that another problem is that the module does not include gender non-conforming students.
Donais said that she wants students to realize that the program was carefully selected with their interests in mind.
“It’s important for students to know that we didn’t decide this on a whim, a lot of thought and collaboration went into it and we did include students in the process,” Donais said.
Longa said that one of the goals of the program is to ensure cohesive messaging regarding sexual assault from various programs and offices across campus.
“We’re trying to make sure all the pieces are more seamless, different groups do training on these issues, but we’re all talking so we make sure our messaging makes sense together and that students have a sense that we have a cohesive program,” Longa said.
CORRECTION: The article mistakenly printed that a higher percentage of Juniors reported being sexually assaulted or suspecting they had been sexually assaulted on the Campus Climate Survey. This statement was followed by a quote by Lauren Donais that these numbers indicated increased perpetration and victimization during UConn student’s junior year. However, the numbers were based on the current class standing of the respondents rather than when in their academic career the incident occurred. The report does not indicate an increase in incidents of sexual assault during UConn students’ junior year, only that more students who responded that they had been or may have been sexually assaulted were juniors at the time of the survey.