SG to fund new mandatory sexual assault prevention training
All students will be required to undergo the training during Welcome Week
Sexual assault prevention will now be a requirement for new undergraduates during Welcome Week, according to Student Government President Sophia Wirth.
"Students will be told that they are required to attend the training, but the University has not yet committed [to] definitely requiring it with consequences if students don't attend," Wirth said.
This new program is a response to a set of recommendations the SG Task Force on Sexual Assault and Prevention delivered to the Office of Campus Life on Nov. 10, 2014. Students Against Sexual Violence petitioned for a particular recommendation that would make it a requirement for incoming students to participate in sexual assault prevention training during Welcome week.
“We’re extremely happy with American University that it has chosen to stand by survivors,” Zach Moore, a spokesperson for Students Against Sexual Violence, said. “Sexual assault on campus is a very big deal right now. It’s an epidemic and American University is breaking new grounds in the fight against that.”
The Wellness Center will coordinate the program during Welcome Week, where incoming freshmen will sit in a 90-minute session to learn methods to prevent assault.
The University will pilot the program in fall 2015, but it will reach its larger scale in fall 2016. The pilot program will use the existing amount of PEERS educators to train incoming students, according to a memo from the Office of the Vice President of Campus Life.
With said SG will fund the new program with a budget of $20,000. The University has previously said adequate funding was a reason why a similar program had not already existed, according to Wirth.
“We sort of saw the final roadblock as being funding, and so when we were told the University would be unable to fund the program, we didn’t want that to mean that the program didn’t happen,” Wirth said. “And I think [SG funding] really fits completely within our mission and eliminated a roadblock that the University kept presenting.”
Although the Sexual Assault Working Group, a group under the Office of Campus Life made up of 30 students and staff and chaired by Dean of Students Robert Hradsky, approved a number of recommendations made by the Student Government Task Force on Sexual Assault and Prevention, Wirth said the implied mandatory training for incoming students was key focus for the Task Force.
“This is not a win for any one individual or any one group,” Wirth said. “This is a win for everyone. I think that students have been working on this for almost a decade and the fact that we’ve gotten one step closer is huge.”