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The University of La Verne recently made it mandatory for all incoming students to complete “Think About It,” an online training course designed to educate new students about alcohol, drugs and sexual violence prevention.
Think About It is one of the many programs the University has implemented to be in compliance with the federal law and the Campus SaVE Act (Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act). SaVE requires that all campuses be transparent about incidents of sexual violence and enforce campus-wide prevention education programs. SaVE was signed as a part of the Violence Against Women Act by President Obama in March 2013.
“We’ve always been committed to try and build a safe and healthy environment as we can,” said Loretta Rahmani, dean of student affairs. “Now the law says you have to be in compliance and have all first year students have a sexual violence and awareness, and alcohol and other drugs program.”
Students are required to take part one of the course through CampusClarity.com. The animated, easy-to-navigate format presents fictional, yet realistic situations that deal with hooking up, partying, drugs and alcohol, consent, coercion, healthy relationships and a lot more. It takes approximately two to three hours to complete the course, and students can stop the course at any time and come back to where they left off.
All incoming students — undergraduate, graduate, transfers, CAPA — are required to take the course before the beginning of November. Those who have not completed it by then will have their registration for spring 2015 held. Students were given the course during the summer, a few weeks before school began.
“We want to have the education upfront,” Rahmani said. “(The first few weeks of school) is that period where students are new — there’s a greater sense of independence, of exploration, determining their schedules, their rhythm. That’s where there may be more exploration of outside activities.”
However current students are not required to go through Think About It.
“The biggest reason is there’s a cost associated with this,” said Juan Regalado, associate dean of students. “So the ability for us to give it to cover the cost for all students; it’s a little daunting.”
Both Regalado and Rahmani said that in four years, it is the hope that all students at the University will have completed the course. This school year alone, there has been a great response rate.
Residents assistants at the University are required to take Think About It.
“If someone has been a victim of sexual assault, their world has been turned upside down,” Regalado said. “The whole idea of how do you begin to help this person heal and regain control of their life in a space where maybe they feel like they lost all control, there’s a counseling element.”
Megan Wammack, junior psychology major and resident assistant, said she is already overhearing her residents talk a lot about Think About It.
“We want to make sure that they’re safe, that they’re happy and that they feel like La Verne is a home for them,” she said. “(Think About It) was a really good base for us.”
More topics Think About It covers are sexual culture on campus, tips on how to pace drinking and a detailed lesson on blood alcohol content, presents and debunks rape myths, and comprehensively explains consent, victim blaming and acquaintance assault.
The University has also launched the bystander program Step Up! to comply with federal law.
Kristina Bugante can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.