UVM needs a real solution to their assault problem
November 10, 2021
Content warning: sexual assault.
After protests over the mishandling of sexual assault cases on campus, UVM assigned students online training modules from EVERFI in a Sept. 6 email.
It is repulsive to suggest that a quick, easily skippable module will prevent sexual assault and rape on campus.
EVERFI is an education technology company focused on teaching critical thinking skills, according to the EVERFI website.
The two assigned trainings cover sexual assault prevention, healthy relationships, diversity, belonging and inclusion.
These trainings are a Band-Aid for bigger issues UVM doesn’t want to address.
Thirteen percent of students experience rape or sexual assault while at college. Women ages 18 to 24 are at an elevated risk, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
Additionally, the incompleteness of EVERFI trainings come with no consequence, emphasizing UVM’s neglect of these systemic problems.
Sexual assault and harassment trainings are not effective, but education is.
Assault and harassment trainings include rule-based processes, while education requires complex understanding, critical thinking and knowledge acquisition, according to the 2019 Journal of Trauma & Dissociation.
On top of being ineffective, these trainings can be re-traumatizing for survivors of sexual assault as a result of the invasive questions.
The EVERFI pre-survey asks students if they’ve experienced sexual assault.
As someone who has been assaulted, I do not enjoy thinking about my assault nor disclosing the traumatic details of what happened.
I was unprepared for the pre-survey question and felt uneasy and uncomfortable in my own dorm room. The survey brought me back to a time I would rather forget and caused unnecessary pain.
Students need education regarding sexual assault, but it shouldn’t make survivors uncomfortable.
The EVERFI training takes about an hour to complete, which is not enough time to challenge internal biases and develop the skills or awareness to change students’ mindsets, attitudes and actions.
The school needs to confront their sexual assault problem head-on by supporting survivors, punishing those who hurt them and providing effective educational resources. Simply relying on these trainings as a Band-Aid will not work.