Sexual Harassment: raising awareness

Lauren Bird – Staff Writer

Earlier this month, in compliance with federal requirements, all Dordt students received an email containing the link to an online course about sexual harassment and sexual violence.

 

This decision was not made only by Dordt staff members, but rather is a requirement included in Title IX and the Clery Act. Title IX is a portion of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, and, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, “protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.” The Jeanne Clery Act requires colleges and universities in the United States to share information about crime on and around their campuses.

 

The course sent out to students is meant to educate them about Title IX and how to deal with cases of sexual harassment or violence on campus. Students can view Dordt’s annual security reports online, which list the number of crimes, including any sexual offenses. The report can be found by going to http://www.dordt.edu and searching “Clery”.

 

One look at the number of crimes committed on campus in the past few years shows that reported crimes or acts of sexual harassment do not frequently happen at Dordt. However, Robert Taylor, Dordt’s Dean for Campus Life, believes that the required module is a preventative measure.

 

“I think it really helps people think through how to interact and deal with victims of sexual harassment,” said Taylor. “Anything could happen, and further education on the subject helps prevent and protect us as a campus community.”

 

If students don’t typically keep up with changes in federal laws, then the appearence of this module may have been a surprise to them. As a result, many students had mixed feelings about being required to take the course.

 

Domenic Vermeulen, a sophomore at Dordt, had a positive view of the course.

 

“When I received the email about the course, I thought it was great,” said Vermeulen. “However, I believe that there are other things we hear about or experience that need to be addressed as well, such as verbal or communicative harassment. But I really appreciate that they’re starting to address this on campus.”

 

On the other hand, some students believe that the course is not necessary. Arielle Johnston, a junior, had a negative opinion of the course.

 

“I feel like a lot of the information they gave us in the course was common knowledge,” said Johnston. “I haven’t hardly seen any behavior on campus that would warrant the use of the knowledge presented in the course. Besides, I think many people already have a pre-determined notion of what they would do in a situation similar to those presented in the course.”

 

Regardless of students’ opinions on the module, it is required that all students take it. However, Taylor says that the options the government presented made it easier to present the necessary information to students.

 

“One of the options was to bring in a lecturer,” said Taylor. “We decided that the module was a better option so students could do it at their own pace and no meetings were required.”

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