To create positive change, the first step is learning how to approach something differently and in a timely manner.
Sonoma State University students received an email Wednesday regarding an online training program about sexual violence among college students. This program requires students to participate in a 10-level interactive game where they listen and converse with the online characters about sexual violence.
Sexual violence is a problem on college campuses across the nation, but can a program that takes roughly an hour to complete—with little to no concentration or effort—really tackle a problem that is so deeply rooted in society?
This training, “Agent of Change,” is the university’s way of educating and preventing sexual violence among students and the campus community. According to the email, the program is mandatory and if not completed by June 30, a hold will be placed on students’ fall 2015 registration.
Besides the issue of the program’s effectiveness, a relevant question is whether it’s fair for the university to place a hold and stop students from enrolling in courses simply because they don’t want to participate in an online training program.
If this program weren’t mandatory, would students even consider completing it? Probably not, but since the university hasn’t publicly addressed the issue of sexual assault or publicized this mandatory training besides via email, what happens to students who simply overlook the email?
Besides the lack of publicity of the training, there is the underlying issue of how this training will begin to help students understand complex issues of sexual violence on college campuses.
An incident of rape was reported in the Sonoma State University residence halls on March 26, and few students and administrators are aware of the occurrence.
What originally happened March 7 from around 2-3:30 a.m. was not reported until later in the month, and is still being investigated with high priority.
Does an incident in the university’s own backyard and no one knowing about it prove the Sonoma State community’s ignorance and apathy toward crime, or does it prove college campuses truly don’t care about sexual violence happening against students?
The lack of concern from students and administrators about this incident shows something needs to change among colleges and how sexual assaults are handled, and it won’t be found in an online interactive training game, mandatory or not.
With that said, this program could and hopefully will create dialogue about sexual violence, which is definitely important.
From dialogue, future behavioral changes might then be promoted through honest and open communication on campus.
But the amount of students who will take the training seriously, and actually think critically about sexual assault on college campuses, is likely very small, which makes the program’s effectiveness questionable.
Despite the many questions and doubts concerning the training game, the STAR applauds Sonoma State for taking a small step toward changing the culture of sexual violence and educating students, believing this needs to be the beginning of a conversation, not the end of one.
If students are held accountable for taking part in this dialogue, so should the university. In order to change this devastating aspect of college culture on the Sonoma State campus and all others, more education and awareness is necessary, and frankly a bit overdue.