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UNC among cohort of universities ramping up sexual assault trainings

In January, University students began to complete the online training, which incorporates aspects such as defining sexual assault and giving an overview of resources for victims. It’s part of a new federal mandate for schools to provide certain educational opportunities regarding sexual assault prevention and awareness.

“This is just one component of the University — it’s one piece of the broader program we have in place,” said Hilary Delbridge, the spokeswoman for the University’s Title IX compliance office.

After three and a half months, 80 percent of faculty and 86 percent of students have completed the online module.

Maddy Frumkin, a co-chairwoman of Project Dinah, which advocates for better sexual assault awareness and prevention, said the training is a good start but isn’t as thorough as she would prefer.

“I think they definitely are beneficial in that it’s just letting everyone have the same information and making sure it’s accessible to everyone,” Frumkin said. “But I think UNC could’ve personalized it a bit more for our campus and made it less general in that way.”

Both UNC and N.C. State University require students who are part of fraternities and sororities to complete sexual assault education training — but Alexis Gaines, a senior at N.C. State, said she doesn’t think her school’s program is as effective as it could be.

“It was more focused on telling us about how Greek life has more incidents with sexual assault than telling us about preventing it or providing resources,” she said.

Delbridge said UNC’s trainings are what students make them, and while one online training might not be enough, there are multiple other resources that UNC provides students.

“It’s a combination of programs; it’s online trainings, it’s in-person prevention efforts. No one online training is going to solve this issue and change behavior. It’s a combination of things,” she said.

North Carolina universities aren’t the only schools implementing trainings.

In Virginia, a sexual violence task force is examining solutions for its campuses, including more training for employees and people who work with victims. The state’s flagship campus, the University of Virginia — which declined to comment for this story — has faced months of scrutiny related to sexual assault.

The University of Tennessee, which has also been under a recent sexual assault spotlight, has launched a series of training efforts over the last two years.

The school requires incoming freshmen to complete a training during orientation, and there are additional, optional trainings for students.

Ashley Blamey, the director of the Center for Health Education and Wellness at the University of Tennessee, said the school focuses on a bystander program to teach students how to help potential sexual assault victims.

“These events most often take place in social settings and typically by someone the student knows,” she said. “Our goal is to create a community level of commitment around the idea that this is something we’re not going to tolerate.“

Blamey said the multiple resources for students at Tennessee are integral because of the impact college students are able to make.

“We’re all just really grateful to see this opportunity on college campuses because if you impact your college campus, you impact every industry and every career opportunity, and you can really change the way a culture thinks,” she said.

In addition to UNC’s general requirements for students, certain groups — such as resident advisers — have to participate in additional training.

Kim McCullough, a senior RA at UNC, said the University offers plenty of sexual assault-related resources for students, but she worries that students don’t always take advantage of them.

“I definitely do think the University has many resources available regarding sexual assault as well as resources to help them talk about issues with on this topic because it is sensitive,” McCullough said. “I don’t feel often times students take what they have learned from the trainings and apply them to real-life situations.”

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