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By Maggie Cai
Arts & Features Copy Editor
The Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action extended the deadline to Oct. 24 for Stony Brook University students to complete the online training course on the prevention of discrimination and sexual violence.
As a student, like many others who simply scrolled through the slides of the discrimination and sexual violence required training and answered the questions by guessing or using common sense, I can say that there is a lack of incentive for students to complete the mandatory training course.
The thought process most students have is that the worst thing that can happen is the university putting a hold on our SOLAR accounts, so they can push it to the side until it’s convenient for them to fill out. Then there comes the question of whether this online training course is even effective.
Does it really teach us anything if it’s just a bunch of slides and questions that let us move on regardless of what we put down as an answer? No.
Let’s examine what this course is made to educate us about. The Clery Act is a federal law that requires colleges and universities to disclose information about crime on or around their campuses. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and activities.
This is a serious issue that has a number of statistics backing it up, but having an online course to scroll through while answering multiple choice questions isn’t the way to go about educating students. According to data collected in 2009 under the Clery Act, college campuses reported nearly 3,300 forcible sex offenses. In a report prepared for the National Institute of Justice, about 1 in 5 females and 6.1 percent of males were victims of completed or attempted sexual assault while in college.
The timing of the training course also makes me wonder what the true intentions of the course are. Stony Brook University is one of the 76 colleges and universities being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on how they handle sexual assault cases. I can’t help but wonder if the university is just trying to relieve themselves of the bad press that has surrounded them regarding the issue.
Both students and the university have a responsibility to care about these issues. Requiring students to take a training course on these issues, despite what the intentions are, shows effort in attempting to educate the campus community about the problem.
Whether it is effective depends on the individual student.
If a student actually sits down and reads through the slides and answers the questions, then yes it is effective in educating them about the topic. If a student decides to skip through the slides without reading, then it is not effective. This is dependent on the students’ motivation in educating themselves.
Nobody can complain that the university is not making an effort to educate and improve the issues. The effort has been put in regardless of the effectiveness. The university even changed the University Student Conduct Code. The consequence of having a hold on SOLAR may not be the best way to provide an incentive. Regardless how harsh the penalties are, there are still going to be students who will choose to put it off.