- Associated Press - Friday, November 27, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Six colleges in Utah are offering an online course designed to prevent campus rapes by teaching students how to spot threatening behavior by possible offenders and better understand what constitutes consent.

Most of the schools are in their first or second year of using the program that enables schools to follow new federal requirements to do more to prevent campus sexual assaults.

The two-hour course includes videos and slides about common scenarios that play out on campuses, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Wednesday (https://bit.ly/1jinJc1).

The program, called Haven, is a required course for incoming students at Westminster College, Utah State University and Southern Utah University.

It’s offered, but not mandated, at the University of Utah, Salt Lake Community College and Weber State University.

It is not offered at Mormon-owned Brigham Young University or Snow College.

The online course has become “a great resource to talk about sex, period,” said Ambra Jackson, president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah.

The program includes material that students click through that delves into what it means for a person to give consent for sexual activity. It points out that if a person gives ambiguous answers or says nothing, that means there’s no consent.

“If you aren’t positive that someone is consenting to something,” the program says, “don’t move forward in any way.”

The videos show young men trying to get women drunk and coerce them into sexual activity, while asking the course-taker when they should intervene.

For students from Utah public schools, where abstinence is taught, the program could be the first time they’re being asked to talk so openly about sex.

The program also includes an optional survey to be done after the course that provides colleges with valuable information about what incoming students think and have learned about sexual encounters. The survey answers are anonymous and schools receive the data to help them assess what they’re dealing with it.

Weber State, the University of Utah and Westminster College are giving the survey and hoping to learn about students’ perceptions of sex and relationships and how the Haven program changed those views, if at all.

Salt Lake Community College is among the schools that chose not to tack on the survey.

Haven is currently offered at more than 650 campuses in the U.S., said Rob Buelow, spokesman for EverFi, the company that makes Haven and other online courses. The White House initiative to increase prevention efforts has led to a spike in colleges buying the program, he said, though he declined to give specifics.

The cost depends on the size of a college’s student body. Salt Lake Community College paid $31,000 while Southern Utah paid $10,000.

Buelow said it’s not “intended to be a one-and-done, ‘now you’ve solved the problem’ type of program.”

But none of the schools currently require any follow-up training after the online course.

Utah colleges are still sorting through how best follow up on the lessons learned. Weber State is considering offering course credits to students who lead weekly workshops on how to maintain healthy relationships.

Megan Waters, violence and injury prevention specialist at the Utah Department of Health, suggested schools consider weaving in messages on stadium video screens or in campus coffee shops.

“Just because you’re reaching one sector of the student population,” Waters said, “doesn’t mean you’re reaching all of them.”


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, https://www.sltrib.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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