Sexual assault training required

A district wide email was sent out on Sept. 20 with a link to a mandatory online module about sexual harassment that students must complete by Oct. 31.

In partnership with EVERFI, an education and technology company, the module released by the Los Angeles Community College District will train people in sexual assault prevention.

The course is 45 minutes long and will cover topics such as relationship violence, sexual assault, stalking and sexual harassment.

According to an email from the district regarding the module, “The Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) is committed to supporting you in reaching your goals as a student and providing you with an education that will help you be more successful as a member of the community, here and beyond. This includes a commitment to providing ongoing programming and educational initiatives related to topics that address critical issues impacting both colleges and society at large. This includes enhancing our own community’s awareness and understanding of the topics of sexual misconduct and gender-based violence.”

Everyone participating in the 2018-2019 school year is expected to complete the training in an effort to educate students on topics covered under Title IX.

In an email from the district regarding the online training, there is no stated consequence for one’s failure to complete the module before the deadline. However, the district will track students’ progress on the training  and in November, if not enough students have completed the course, more action will be taken then.

Beth Benne, the director of the Student Health Center, believes the course is important to begin the conversation on sexual assault.

“I don’t believe that the mandatory online education that you guys are now being told that you have to do is going to eliminate sexual harassment and assault on campus, but what it does is it makes people aware that you can help out,” Benne said. “We have to change the culture. Affirmative consent is a new phrase that we have to start talking about.”

By participating in this course, the district hopes students will learn how to recognize and define certain behaviors as sexual assault.

“You might have individuals that could be conducting things that would be considered sexual harassment without realizing that’s what it is,” Pierce Student David Suh said. “In those cases I think the module would prevent some incidents, but you might have other people that might be a little more stubborn. It’s not going to make it worse,” Suh said

The online module opens up a channel of communication between students, faculty and the district on a topic that is hard for some students to talk about.

Dale Fields, chair of the physics department, wants everyone at Pierce to be able to learn without being nervous or afraid.

“It’s something that still pervades our culture and it’s something that needs to be dealt with. I think making everyone aware of the issues and making sure that we try to fix it is a really important step that we can do in our society right now, and really important to do at Pierce College,” Fields said.