It’s difficult for most people to absorb and retain large amounts of information at one time. And sometimes what doesn’t seem pertinent initially resonates later. Recognizing that students can benefit from information being presented at different stages and in different ways, the University of Maryland has changed its approach to educating students about sexual assault and misconduct. Instead of a “one shot” programming approach, the school provides information at intervals.
Programming begins with an online training segment required for all new students before they arrive on campus. The program spells out concerning and prohibited behaviors and provides students with information about the university’s response to sexual misconduct, including possible sanctions. Students are also informed of the options for reporting sexual misconduct and of resources available to both the victim and the accused.
The second presentation takes place on campus during orientation. Representatives from the university’s Title IX office, Campus Advocates Respond and Educate (CARE) to Stop Violence team, and police department screen a video for students, highlight prevention efforts on campus, identify campus partners and resources, and outline safety and reporting information.
The third engagement is through the bystander intervention training program Step UP!, which takes place before the end of a student’s first semester. Facilitated by University Health Center peer educators, Step UP! teaches safe strategies for intervention in situations ranging from alcohol abuse and abusive relationships to sexual assault and harassment.
Additional opportunities, via programming for special populations and campus groups, are threaded throughout a student’s second, third, and fourth years. In this way, the university reaches students regularly with information that’s most relevant to their needs throughout their time on campus.