The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is requiring all students to take sexual misconduct training by the end of March, and some Association of Students of the University of Nebraska representatives voiced concerns about the appropriateness of this training.
The Chancellor’s Collaborative on Sexual Misconduct recommended that sexual misconduct training be put in place.
Students are required to complete this course by Wednesday, March 31, and failure to do so may result in students being unable to register for future courses.
At a recent ASUN senate meeting, members raised concerns regarding the training.
ASUN president and member of the Chancellor's Collaborative on Sexual Misconduct Roni Miller said that the decision makers chose the program, developed by Catharsis Productions, without consulting the chancellor’s collaborative, survivor support groups and student leaders on campus.
“I think an executive decision was just made without consultation with those groups and I think to the university’s detriment and to survivors’ disadvantage,” Miller said.
Miller said she was frustrated and disappointed in the training program.
“My initial reaction was one of surprise and one of frustration,” Miller said. “I was expecting a training with a different level of seriousness to it and a different level of respect and understanding for survivors' experiences.”
At the ASUN meeting, many of the comments senators made expressed concern and anger regarding the tone of the training as well as the lack of respect for survivors.
One of the major concerns was that the training could be triggering for survivors of sexual misconduct. Some of the concerns include that the training had a playful tone, inappropriate jokes, a lack of trigger warnings and odd graphics throughout.
“The Catharsis training was developed by trained experts who have worked with survivors of sexual violence,” Leslie Reed, UNL’s public affairs director, said in an emailed statement.
Miller said one of the most frustrating things about this is knowing all the work that has gone into trying to make the campus a more improved place, especially in regards to sexual misconduct.
“This program was selected because of its accessibility for a wide audience,” Reed said. “The university is working to have the entire campus community recognize sexual misconduct and to know what to do if they experience it or witness it.”
In response to that statement, Sen. Patrick Baker said that he felt the university is doubling down on its decision for choosing this specific training module.
“My issue with it is the fact that, in terms of what I have heard about this training, is that the conversation is far more geared towards how difficult or insensitive the training was, not towards how beneficial and supportive it is,” Baker said.
Baker said that while no one has come directly to him to voice concerns, students have come to other members of ASUN.
While the training raised serious concerns, Miller is hopeful that positive change will continue to come regarding sexual misconduct on campus.
“I think that this negative feedback regarding the sexual misconduct training isn't an end all be all,” Miller said. “I hope it is used as a springboard to find better training in order to better inform students.”
Campus officials plan to meet on Tuesday with ASUN leadership regarding these concerns, according to Miller.
Counseling and Psychological Services is available for appointments Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students who are in a crisis situation after hours can call (402) 472-7450 and follow the prompts provided.