UNC-CH mandates sexual violence course for students
Posted January 12, 2015
Chapel Hill, N.C. — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is requiring all students to take an online sexual violence and harassment training course as part of the school's new policy for handling sex assault cases.
Failure to complete the training each year could result in the university blocking a student's access to register in other courses, officials said.
"The training complies with federal requirements and includes information about laws prohibiting sexual harassment, sexual violence, interpersonal violence and stalking. It also provides information regarding how to identify this prohibited conduct, seek support following incidents and report such conduct," Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp said in a Monday email to students.
The Title IX Awareness and Violence Prevention training is "not something that merely checks a box of compliance," Assistant Vice Chancellor Christi Hurt said.
"It's something that explains how these issues play out on this university's campus," said Hurt, who also heads the Carolina Women's Center. "It does take valuable time from a student's schedule, but I can't think of anything more valuable than spending time learning how to be a safe contributor to the campus culture."
Still, some students were irked that delays in completing the training – they have 45 days to comply – could mess up their registration for fall classes.
"I understand that it's well-intentioned, but I don't think that's another stress and responsibility that us students here need to have," Bryan Josefchuk said.
Faculty and staff also have to take the training, which is part of policy changes UNC-Chapel Hill adopted in August amid a federal investigation into sex assaults on the university campus.
Five women asked the U.S. Education Department's Office of Civil Rights in 2013 to look into what they called an atmosphere of sexual violence at the school. Their complaint accused UNC-Chapel Hill of under-reporting sexual assault cases for 2010 in an annual report to the federal government on campus crime and alleged that campus officials had created a hostile environment for students reporting sexual assault.
Subsequent student protests over campus sex assaults prompted then-Chancellor Holden Thorp to appoint a 21-member task force to study the issue.
The new policy details prohibited conduct, including stalking gender-based harassment, provides resources for victims and outlines the adjudication process.
A UNC system security initiative last summer adopted a recommendation to remove students from grievance panels that hear sex assault cases and have only trained personnel handle the cases.
Some students took the training, which includes slides, activities and quizzes to help students learn definitions and expectations, last fall in a pilot program, allowing university officials to tweak the course before mandating it for all students. Crisp said UNC-Chapel Hill is also working on a campus-wide survey to gauge the climate of how sex assaults are addressed.
"We hope this training will increase awareness and broaden the discussion about this issue on our campus," he said in the email. "We will host sessions to answer any questions you have following this training and to seek your feedback on how we can continue to improve our efforts to address this important issue."