The number of undergraduate students who took Webster University’s required online sexual assault prevention course is pathetic, but not surprising.
Dean of Students Ted Hoef said as of Sept. 18, 642 of the 3,002 undergraduate students completed the course. The 30-minute course had to be completed by the fourth week of classes, a deadline which has passed.
The reason over three-fourths of students did not bother to complete this course is simple: it was not enforced. Many students did not even know about it. Those who did know about it did not see a need to complete the course. Why did this happen? The university did not enforce the importance of the course and did not create any consequences for students who did not take it.
Yes, the university did send emails to students reminding them to take the required course. However, many students do not check their Webster email accounts, and those who do could have simply ignored the reminder. If the university wanted to enforce this course as a requirement, more could have easily been done.
Signs should have been placed in the quad and other grassy areas. Flyers should have been hung up on every bulletin board and on the walls of every campus building. Teachers should have been required to tell the students about the course. Better yet, teachers should have been required to set aside time in class for students to complete the course. However, the university did none of these things.
On the other hand, the Webster 101 class offered only to freshmen has made the sexual assault prevention course mandatory. This is an excellent way to get students to complete the prevention course.
Although, Webster 101 is the only class requiring this. In other classes, if a student asks what will happen if they do not take the course and the answer is “nothing,” then there is nothing driving the student to take the course. The way that Webster 101 enforced the prevention course must be extended to all other classes in order for there to be any change.
The university must take sexual assault prevention seriously. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) found that one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. NSVRC also reported that more than 90 percent of victims on campus do not report rape and sexual assault to the police.
As of Sept. 24, the Webster University Connections page has a message stating that the online sexual prevention course is “strongly encouraged” and no longer a requirement of all undergraduates.
If the university was truly taking sexual assault prevention seriously, the online course would be a requirement. Just because students did not complete the course does not mean the university should back down and “strongly encourage” the course instead of require it.
Sexual assault is something that does happen on college campuses. If Webster University wants to show the importance of prevention, it needs to do more.