The Univeristy of Rhode Island’s sexual assault training course has undergone several changes as the course has moved to Brightspace, partially due to changes in federal Title IX policy.
The course has been offered as part of URI 101 in the past, and is mandatory for all first-year students. Most of the course’s changes have come from changes in Title IX, a federal law protecting people from sex-based discrimination in education. These Title IX changes will affect how sexual assault cases are reported, and allows advisors for both the accuser and the accused to cross-examine the other party. These new rules will be covered in this online course.
The program itself is being offered as its own course on Brightspace, although functionally it is very similar to how it worked as part of URI 101. The students that complete the course receive a certificate acknowledging their completion.
The course had also been offered to upperclassmen, although URI’s Title IX coordinator Karen Larsen said that was due to a technical error.
Gerard Holder, URI’s deputy Title IX coordinator, said that the course moving to Brightspace changed how the course works for instructors, allowing them to see where students are in the program.
“It’s on our Brightspace platform, which makes it a lot more accessible and controllable,” Holder said. “I can tell where students are in the process of taking the program because it provides us with an update on the classes.”
Additionally, Holder said that the program last year was run by URI’s insurers, while this year, officials at the University are running it themselves.
Larsen said that she hopes the biggest takeaway of the course for the students will be how to address potentially dangerous situations involving sexual violence.
“The biggest takeaway for students is how to recognize situations that pose a risk of sexual misconduct and how to address them either as a participant or a bystander,” Larsen said. “We’re just looking for people to be educated to know how to react in certain situations, how to recognize situations that may come up, and tips for how to address it.”
Holder is looking for a similar rate of students taking the course as there were last year, when it was part of URI 101’s curriculum and involved an in-person presentation.
“We had a pretty good success rate last year, which was 92 percent of students taking the course, and now we’re hoping to say that this year,” Holder said.
According to Holder, the program is at 44 percent participation compared to last year so far. For optimal use, Holder recommends using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox to run the browser.
Due to another technical error, the course was also down briefly, although both Larsen and Holder said that it is back up.
“My understanding is that that was deactivated so only first-years would continue to see it in their Brightspace courses section,” Larsen said.
Despite the course not being required for upperclassmen, Larsen said that any upperclassmen who wish to take the course are welcome to do so.
Larsen also said that she hopes the course is expanded to upperclassmen in the future.
“Our hope is that next year, we have a system in place where it can be offered to all students,” Larsen said. “Hopefully next year it will be more widely available.”
This story was published in the Nov. 5 edition of the Good Five Cent Cigar.