U of M offers online course on sexual violence

Video-based program includes policy rundown, statements from faculty

Members of the U of M community looking for “foundational information on sexual violence” can now access a five-part course provided by the university online.

The course, available on UM Learn, is comprised of six brief videos. The course begins with an explanation of sexual violence and goes into an explanation of the university’s sexual violence policies.

Later videos include students and faculty members describing common myths about sexual violence and a guide to navigating the university’s sexual violence support and education website.

The introductory video in the course includes opening statements from various university administration, faculty and one student. 

U of M vice-president administration Lynn Zapshala-Kelln is quoted as calling the course “only the first step” of the university’s campaign to combat sexual violence.

U of M president David Barnard called on faculty and staff, along with students, to take the course.

“It is our collective responsibility to educate ourselves around sexual violence on campus,” he said in a statement.

The course comes after a year of sexual violence policy review from the university.

The sexual assault policy, which was made effective in 2016, is currently under review and policies based on feedback from faculty, students and stakeholders will be brought before the university’s board of governors in June.

The university published guidelines in March for faculty and staff on how to conduct themselves toward students, both professionally and in possible romantic settings.

These guidelines do not include any disciplinary measures, but recommends faculty avoid romantic relationships with students.

The last two years have seen several allegations of sexual misconduct by faculty toward students at the university.

The first day of classes this year saw Barnard hold a media conference wherein he apologized to students for the university’s response to sexual misconduct on campus.

UMSU is currently in the process of suggesting amendments to the sexual violence and respectful work and learning environment policy and was involved in the eventual creation of the course.

UMSU president Jakob Sanderson, who said he has yet to take the course but did “look forward to engaging with it,” called it a step toward the union’s demands for increased supports for university students affected by sexual violence.

“We did have meetings with administration members about their education and training resources and materials to put forward our priorities,” he said.

“We’re encouraged to see the administration working to create more ways for people to access this education and look forward to continued consultation as we move towards our goal of mandatory and effective training for all faculty and administrations.”