Univ. of Montana creates sex violence prevention class
MISSOULA — The University of Montana has created a mandatory tutorial aimed at preventing sexual violence in the wake of federal investigations about how the university handles reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Students must watch all seven videos and pass a quiz with a score of 100 percent before registering for second semester classes, the Missoulian reported (http://bit.ly/Sw979v) Friday.
The videos focus on Montana law relating to rape and sexual assault, the legal definition of consent, sexual predators, myths about sexual assault and ways to reduce one's risk of being assaulted.
After an outside investigation into reported sexual assaults at UM found nine reported attacks between September 2010 and December 2011, the investigator and the University Council on Student Assault recommended that all UM students should be educated on reducing their risk of being assaulted or of committing "personal violence."
Faculty and staff looked at training programs created by other universities, but none of them met UM's needs or standards, said Danielle Wozniak, an associate professor in the School of Social Work.
She and Beth Hubble, co-chair of the Women and Gender Studies Program, began writing the script and working with the council to develop their own program.
"We wanted something tailored to our needs and something based on the most current literature in sexual assault reduction and prevention," Wozniak said. "I think what we've achieved has set a new national standard for this type of training."
The program doesn't mince words or shy away from the issue of sexual violence.
"The subject matter discussed in these videos can be difficult for some," Wozniak said. In fact, they advise viewers who find it uncomfortable to watch the videos to stop and contact the Student Assault Resource Center for support.
UM President Royce Engstrom opens the videos with a stern warning that anyone who engages in predatory behavior on campus will be held accountable.
According to the tutorial, 82 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, including fellow students, friends, acquaintances or family members and alcohol is the leading date-rape drug.
The videos note that legal consent for sex cannot be given by someone who is mentally disabled, incapacitated or physically helpless for any reason, including alcohol, drugs, deception or coercion.
"Most of the time we think of consent in the negative," the video says. "She didn't say 'no,' scream, punch or kick. It's more important to understand that consent is more about saying 'yes' than it is about saying 'no.'"
The Department of Justice is investigating how the university police as well as local law enforcement and prosecutors are handling reports of sexual assault while the Department of Education is investigating a sexual discrimination report filed against the football program. An outside investigation by former Supreme Court Justice Diane Barz revealed the nine reported attacks. At least three other cases of sexual assault or rape have been reported since Barz made her report to the university. Two students have been charged and one suspect fled the country.