The deadline to be entered in a drawing for three $100 Starbucks Coffee Company gift cards for taking the sexual assault course ended Monday and winners were chosen Tuesday.
Before winter break, the Office of Student Life sent an email to students requesting they take an online sexual assault course as part of a legal requirement.
“The purpose of the email and online course were to raise awareness regarding ACU’s anti-harassment policies and educate students on how to prevent and respond to discriminatory and sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, assault, stalking and relationship violence,” said Chris Riley, vice president of Student Life. “We are required by law to provide this kind of on-going training to students.”
The course “Haven-Understanding Sexual Assault” was offered through EverFi and takes about 45 minutes to complete.
“We are required by law to provide this kind of on-going training to students,” Riley said. “This was part of an overall effort which includes an updated policy and website, a mandatory meeting for all freshmen earlier this year, brochures for all on-campus students during move-in, and conversations with specific groups of students related to this issue. We also have recently organized a committee of staff, faculty and current students to discuss these issues and work together to develop prevention programs.”
Though the raffle has passed, the course is still available for students to take.
“The course will remain open throughout the semester if students later have questions and want to learn more,” Riley said. “Unfortunately, it’s often after a situation occurs that questions arise.
Ninety-eight percent of students who received the email opened it, but participation in the course itself was disappointingly low.
“Significantly fewer students completed the course as of (Monday’s) deadline for the drawing of Starbuck’s gift cards,” Riley said. “While I hoped that more would participate, I still feel that it raised awareness and shows that ACU is taking this matter seriously.”
Despite low participation, Briana Toplin, junior psychology major from Keller, was one of few who took the course.
“I actually took it because as a survivor of assault it seems interesting to go through a program with outside opinions,” she said. “It sparked my interest.”
Toplin said her experience in high school made her aware of this form of assault and harassment and thinks college students should make themselves more aware.
“I just think ‘what if someone is at a party and are put in that situation,'” she said. “Some people look at that and say ‘brush it off, you’ll be fine,’ but that’s something that can really be emotionally damaging for somebody.”
Toplin also said she took the course because she thought it was a good opportunity to educate herself.
“I wanted to see what are they doing to make this better,” Toplin said. “It’s good to be informed.”
In hopes of increasing awareness of sexual assault on campus, Riley said they are considering making the course required.
“We hoped that offering the course outside the standard semester time frame would provide students with greater flexibility,” Riley said. “Based on the levels of participation, we are considering making this course mandatory for all freshmen next year in lieu of a mandatory meeting.”
Riley said he hopes to make students more aware of sexaul assault and harassment.
“We hope that by offering this course, we can prevent those situations from occurring in the first place,” Riley said. “We are equally concerned with education and support.”