USU introduces online sexual assault awareness training for incoming students

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Utah State University announced new measures Friday intended to prevent sexual assault from occurring on its campus or by its students.

According to a news release provided by the university, the measures include an online sexual assault awareness training required for all first-year students. The training aims teach students about “critical issues of sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking and sexual harassment.”

First-year undergraduate students will also be required to complete another online program that “aims to reduce underage drinking and at-risk drinking behavior.” Students are required to complete both courses before beginning their classes at USU, and will have a hold placed on their registration accounts if they do not comply.

The efforts also include an “introductory discussion” on consent for sexual activity and bystander intervention training during the connections course, a class offered to all first-year USU students, and a bystander intervention training program targeting various groups of students including student leaders, student athletes and members of Greek life organizations.

The implementations come after a year-long task force, lead by USU President Noelle Cockett, has made strides towards promoting “an overarching strategic plan to address and prevent sexual violence in our campus community,” according to the task force’s website.

Other measures produced by the task force include the “I Will” social campaign launched in January, which aimed to promote bystander intervention by asking students to post pictures of themselves using the hashtag “I will,” as well as the “consent is” posters around campus identifying the factors necessary for sexual consent.

In a January interview with the Utah Statesman, Cockett, who has made sexual assault awareness and prevention a large part of her work in less than a year as president, said her message is “it happens here. USU seems really safe and Logan seems really safe but it still happens here.”

The new measures also include a week of educational presentations on healthy relationships, as well as safe and consensual sex. The presentations will be offered Sep. 5 to 8, the second week of fall semester.

From research at other colleges and universities nationwide, we know there is a higher incidence of sexual assault at the beginning of the school year, so we’re addressing this risk directly and early in the fall semester,” Cockett wrote in a news release. “Student safety and well-being are crucial to ensuring their academic success.”

USU officials were not immediately available for comment Friday, and this story will be updated as more information is released.

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