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Sexual assault training required for UW-Eau Claire students

April 12, 2018

In March, the University of Wisconsin System announced mandatory sexual assault training for both students and faculty at all campuses.

UW- Eau Claire provides various resources for survivors of sexual assault to get the help they need, whether they plan to report or not. The new required training course is one way the UW System hopes to help prevent these cases. Students may be qualified for an exemption from the course. And the UW System has extended the deadline to April 20.

Campus Clarity, a non-profit organization that helps schools comply with the law and Title IX, provides the hour-long training course to students in the UW System are required to complete.

“The main goal is to establish a baseline of information out to all students,” said University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Dean of Students Joe Abhold. “Faculty and staff are taking a similar online course, so we want people to know the basics about reporting and what the resources are available to people on campus.”

The individual campuses were not directly involved in the decision to require the mandatory training, Abhold said. Prior to this new requirement UW-Eau Claire offered sexual assault training as an optional course, but the return rate was very low.

Change of plans

The short window of time to complete the course has spurred mixed responses, Abhold said. Originally, students could be fined $100 for not completing the course by April 1, but the UW System has since backed away from that.

However, the April 1 due date still applied to faculty members.

Student have received emails from Abhold reminding them to complete the course. Many, including Ben Stoflet, a student at UW-Eau Claire, worried it was a scam.

“When I got the first email I thought it was a scam, like phishing,” Stoflet said. “The email came from a third party and had a letter embedded in the middle from the dean. It looked fishy.”

Abhold said this is because of the way Campus Clarity distributes the messages.

“The way the vendor has this program set up, the email has to come from them,” Abhold said. “That’s why we sent out a pre-email under my UWEC email address saying that you will be getting this email.”

Survey exemptions

The UW System does not require victims of sexual assault do not have to take the course. Student graduating in May have also been exempt, along with online-only student and transfer students who have taken the course at another campus.

Some people think there should be more exceptions. Stoflet said he thinks the training he received in the military could be another cause for exemption.

“We went through a ton of sexual assault prevention courses and scenarios when I was in the Marines,” Stoflet said. “So I don’t feel the need to have to take this course again.”

Despite all the conversations around who should and should not be expected to complete the course, Abhold said he doesn’t want people to lose sight of the importance and the seriousness of sexual assault, and preventing it.

Resources on campus

Other resources available at UW-Eau Claire for victims of sexual violence include the Center for Awareness of Sexual Assault (CASA), the Affirmative Action office, UW-Eau Claire Counseling Services, and the Dean of Students office.

Student Health Services and CASA is confidential place for students to tell their story, Abhold said, meaning they are not required to report to police.

Center for awareness of sexual assault is located in counseling services on the second floor of the Old Library. ©2018 Mike Roemer

As the dean of students, Abhold said he is not considered a confidential resource. This means the incident, but not necessarily the names of victims or offenders, would be reported to authorities.

“When a case comes to me, we may have to do an investigation whether or not the student wants us to,” said Abhold. “ We need to balance the victim’s wishes and overall campus safety.”

Many of these services and procedures have been in place at UW-Eau Claire for decades.

CASA was started as a non-profit in 2003. Although it is located on campus, it’s not funded by the university, but works as an independent counseling service for both students and the public.

Amanda Mondlock runs the CASA office, which serves as a resource for both victims and bystanders of abuse. Funded by the Department of Justice, Mondlock said CASA provides free one-on-one counseling, first responder protocol as well as legal and medical advocacy. The CASA office is located in Old Library 2119.

“It’s a lot of supportive listening and informed decision making,” Mondlock said. “I can walk them through the process of whatever route they choose and let them know what comes next in their case.”

Mondlock said she feels supported by the university and has collaborated with administration when making rules dealing with sexual assault.

“We are one of two UW campuses to have an off-campus program housed on campus,” Mondlock said. “I think it would be beneficial to have more because I can advocate in a totally confidential way.”

Working together

Throughout her twelve years working for CASA, Mondluck said more students want to talk about experiences of abuse. She said she hopes that the Campus Clarity course will empower more survivors to do so.

“I agree with the university’s decision to make students take the course because the more people are educated, the less likely instances of sexual assault will occur,” Mondlock said.

Abhold agrees. The information the course offers can change the campus environment, he said. He doesn’t know whether the university will release the results of the course, but will update students with an email.

Students not exempt from the course must complete the training by April 20, or risk a hold on their record.

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