Of VCU’s 8,762 new students, 24 percent of graduate and 33 percent of undergraduate students have completed the mandatory Title IX training by the prize-eligible deadline of Aug. 25.
To encourage early course completion, VCU offered students the chance to win free parking for completing the course by Aug. 25, according to interim assistant dean Katherine Hill. On Sept. 15, there will be another drawing for a free iPad.
President Michael Rao announced all incoming students would be required to complete the hour-long series of online videos and quiz questions intended to teach students how to prevent and handle Title IX violations in an Aug. 3 email to the university community.
“As soon as (students) are equipped with the knowledge and skills to recognize the warning signs of any type of sexual violence then they are going to be more equipped to help a friend if they see those kind of situations and hopefully prevent the situation,” said Hill.
Resident assistants, campus television monitors and VCU social media platforms are dispersing information regarding the course.
“We want to make sure that students know that this training is an opportunity for them to equip themselves with the knowledge and skills needed to end violence on campus,” Hill said.
The office of student affairs predicted some students would feel uncomfortable with certain topics addressed in the videos.
Aside from defining consent and educating students on how to prevent rape, the course provided training for bystanders to a variety of dating abuses.
“I thought it shed light on what most people shy away from,” said freshman computer engineering major Mason Smith-Timberlake.
“Most people that I’ve talked to said they haven’t done it.”
Smith-Timberlake said that he thought some students failed to complete the course because they were uncomfortable about the topic, or simply did not know the course was required.
An Aug. 12 email to new students from Chuck Klink, interim vice provost for student affairs, warned the videos could trigger post traumatic stress for students who had, or knew someone who had, encountered dating violence.
Students who are experiencing emotional difficulties with the course are encouraged to contact The Well and university consulting services.
The office of student affairs is not alarmed at the completion rate as they believe that the new freshmen class has simply been too busy to complete it.
“I think it’s been a very busy time of year so some students may not have prioritized this yet,” Hill said.
Until spring semester, the office of student affairs will continue to send reminder emails, and track completion by V number. Although the course is required, as of now there is no penalty for failure to complete the training.
“I think it’s kind of like throwing the wool over something that needs to be discussed,” Smith-Timberlake said.