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Incoming students required to complete alcohol, sexual assault

Incoming students required to complete alcohol, sexual assault


Northern Illinois University

July 30, 2015

All incoming new students – freshmen and transfers – must complete mandatory online education designed to improve their understanding of the critical issues regarding sexual assault, interpersonal violence, stalking and bystander intervention, as well as the prevention of alcohol misuse.

With the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the 2014 Campus Sexual Violence Act (SaVE Act), the federal government has imposed new requirements regarding the prevention and response to gender-based violence on college and university campuses. One such regulation is the requirement for all new students to participate in prevention education.

For NIU to achieve compliance in meeting this educational obligation, NIU President Doug Baker accepted the recommendation of the Presidential Task Force on Violence Against Women Act to mandate that all newly enrolled undergraduate students complete two online educational modules: AlcoholEdu for College and Haven – Understanding Sexual Assault.

During summer orientation, students were informed that beginning Monday, Aug. 3, they will receive detailed emails through their official NIU accounts providing log-in information and instructions on completing the modules. Late registrants and international students should check their official NIU email accounts for more information.

Students should strive to complete Part I of both modules before fall classes begin Monday, Aug. 24; those who fail to meet the final deadline of Friday, Sept. 18, cannot register for spring semester classes until they come into compliance.

Donna Schoenfeld, director of Wellness Promotion, said the goal is to offer new students fundamental knowledge regarding alcohol and sexual assault, risk reduction measures for themselves and others, and how to proactively and safely stand up for others in need.

“It’s important for students to have basic information prior to coming to campus; we’re hoping that students will think about and consider wiser choices before facing potentially difficult and harmful decisions,” Schoenfeld said.

“For many of our students, NIU is a big world of new and exciting opportunities. By starting the semester with fundamental knowledge regarding the prevention of gender-based violence and alcohol misuse, we hope healthier and safer decisions will ensue.”

Topics covered in Haven include the ethics of relationships, the effects of alcohol on relationships, the ability to give consent and bystander intervention.

AlcoholEdu covers how alcohol affects the body, mind, perceptions and behaviors.

Topics include how media, family and social expectations shape ideas and behaviors; risks associated with problem drinking, including violence and impaired driving; and the impact of alcohol on academic performance.

New students who lack computers with audio capabilities and Internet access at home are not exempt; those students should seek public computers, such as those found in local public libraries, copy centers or community centers.

Students with documented learning needs who require accommodations should contact NIU’s Disability Resource Center at (815) 753-1303 or drc@niu.edu.

Because NIU is committed to the health, safety and academic success of students, the two modules will provide a wealth of useful data from their survey components.

“As administrators, we will be able to see where the gaps are in terms of students’ perceptions, knowledge and decision-making. The data will show us where we need to focus more of our educational efforts,” Schoenfeld said.

Meanwhile, she said, the heightened awareness does not stop with the online education. All students, faculty and staff are responsible for creating and maintaining a safe and healthy community.

“One-and-done isn’t the goal here. Haven and AlcoholEdu are the introduction. Once the academic year begins, there are myriad opportunities for all students to engage in educational activities, workshops, courses and awareness events addressing issues of gender-based violence and alcohol misuse,” Schoenfeld said.

Faculty and instructors are encouraged to consider assigning these two modules to returning students, as they are open to all, she added.

“Even if some of the students don’t feel the information contained in AlcoholEdu or Haven pertains to them, chances are the information relates to someone they know. As a result, they can help a friend. Additionally, students might understand what some of their classmates may be going through.”

For more information, call Wellness Promotion at (815) 753-9755 or email Schoenfeld at dschoenfeld@niu.edu.