Editorial: Anti-harassment programs need to be taken seriously

The Wilbur Cross Building, UConn's adminsitrative hub (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

In working to maintain a safe environment on campus, the University of Connecticut is requiring that all undergraduate students complete an online course titled Not Anymore. This program “provides critical information about Consent, Bystander Intervention, Sexual Assault, Dating and Domestic Violence, Stalking and more.” (I received this information from an email from Eleanor JB Daugherty, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, and Michael Gilbert, VP of Student Affairs). In addition to this video-based program, the university holds presentations about consent and sexual violence at freshman and transfer orientations to promote awareness of the importance of harassment prevention right when students join the UConn community. In addition, many employees on campus and members of Greek Life are required to undergo further education about sexual violence and consent.

Overall, the goal of this program is to “help [students] better understand how vitally important these issues are to creating a safe environment, to our community expectations, and what [students] can do to help make our campus safer for everyone,” according to the email. The university’s intolerant attitude toward these issues creates a safe atmosphere for students who want to report or discuss violence they witnessed or experienced. It is important that students feel that they have somewhere to go in dangerous situations and that their voices are heard by the school. When students know that they have the option of reporting incidents and have their voices heard, they feel safe on their campus. The goal of these online programs and presentations throughout every UConn student’s college experience is to emphasize the importance of violence prevention and to create a campus-wide effort to end harassment and make UConn a much safer campus.

It may seem very obvious to students that violent behavior is not tolerated anywhere, especially on any college campus; but the goal of these presentations are not to tell students that harassment is wrong, but to explain what exactly violent and threatening behavior consists of and how it is typically expressed so it is more easily recognizable on campus. Students that assume they already know not to harass others and respect the notion of consent may not even notice when they are behaving in a threatening manner, since they cannot recognize its symptoms. Many students go through the Not Anymore program very briefly to remove the hold it places on Student Administration accounts. This creates a somewhat passive regard of this program and hinders the takeaways of its lessons.

In order to create a safer campus, it is crucial that every student behaves in a non-threatening manner and is aware of how threatening dangerous behavior is verbally and physically expressed. Without this level of awareness, students are prone to become bystanders in violent situations or unknowingly act violently toward one another. The safety of the campus is compromised when attitude toward violence prevention is not as serious as it can be on behalf of every member of the UConn community.