Opinion: Students should be required to take sexual violence training

With recent instances of sexual violence on campus, ASU must implement more prevention methods

Editor's Note: This article deals with sexual assault. If you need someone to talk to, you can call the national sexual assault hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE(4673).

On Aug. 16, six days before school even started, ASU students received a crime alert regarding an incident of a man fondling two women in the Rural parking structure at around 10 a.m. This incident set the tone for the start of the semester with two additional crime alerts sent within the next month.

While sexual violence is not an ASU specific issue, the current landscape of ASU’s sexual violence prevention requires more careful consideration. This is important because sexual violence is not merely an issue that arises when there is an incident, but instead is one that requires ongoing education and training for not just employees — but for students as well. 

Not only was the instance of sexual violence horrifying, but the timing of the incident, which was during the day, was also disturbing. The recent string of sexual violence on campus has occurred in open areas on campus, such as the Computing Commons, the Sun Devil Fitness Complex or the walkways. It has also taken place as a byproduct of online dating, a service used by many ASU students.

These incidents make sexual violence seem inevitable, especially for women. In fact, a study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that approximately 25% of college women experience some kind of sexual violence by their senior year. It is everyone's responsibility on campus to hold one other accountable and work to combat this statistic.

ASU has a variety of resources in place to help its students in situations like these, but they are often not directed to the right audience nor are they emphasized consistently, especially since students are not required to complete Title IX or any sexual violence training. 

ASU resources include the Sun Devil Support Network which provides training to various organizations that help bystanders grow as effective allies against sexual assault. There is also the Sexual Violence Prevention Department, located in the Student Services Building on the Tempe campus. They provide resources to students in both proactive and reactive roles in the fight against sexual violence. 

All ASU faculty, staff and student workers are mandated to complete a 15-minute training for Title IX compliance, which addresses how to deal with incidents of sexual violence. It is important to note that this training is only described as 15-minutes long, but the issue around sexual violence surpasses beyond anything a 15-minute training block can teach. 

This 15-minute training block has not, by any means, prevented ASU employees from participating in sexual harassment on campus

Read more: Report: ASU official fired amid investigations over racist photo, sexual harassment

“As a student organization on campus we can have conversations about consent, access to birth control and various sexual assault prevention techniques that people may have not had the opportunity to learn previously," senior women and gender studies major Cortez Sanchez said. 

Sanchez is the director of public relations for Devils in the Bedroom, a sex-positive, violence-free community at ASU. 

“ASU is trying to make issues like these more accessible to students," Sanchez said. "In fact, the Sexual Violence Department is trying to set up focus groups in order to understand how information can be more accessible to each student."

Such organizations who aim to educate and train students are effective but need to have a broader reach.

ASU should take this one step further by mandating training and education to students, and being more proactive in ensuring that the resources are more well-known in case of an incident. ASU can then take accountability for the incidents that occur on campus. This could also serve to decrease the amount of violence on ASU's campus preemptively and in the long-term.

Unless drastic measures are taken to reach a broader ASU audience, sexual violence like the incidents that have occurred this past month will continue to happen, and students will never have the opportunity to feel safe at their own school, and often — their homes.


Reach the columnist at alshah2@asu.edu or follow @aasheeni on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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