Starting Jan. 21, students, staff and faculty at all Webster locations have a month to complete mandatory online Title IX training. The University says that such training is vital to the well-being of everyone in the Webster community.
By: Cas Waigand and Cameren Agosta
Webster University launched a mandatory online Title IX training course for students, faculty and staff at all campuses due Feb. 21. Kimberly Pert, interim head of Webster’s Title IX office, said the training will effectively educate students.
“Online training is the most effective way to ensure that all students, faculty and staff, at all of our campuses across the globe, receive consistent information to educate themselves about Title IX,” Pert wrote in an email. “Title IX training is crucial to the health and wellness of the Webster University community.”
Many students agree with the benefits of the training, but some students are unsure of the impact online training will have on campus safety.
Erika Gavilanes had two modules, one for graduate students and another for international students. Gavilanes said the training described real scenarios and offered a guide for what students should do in uncomfortable situations. She was unsure, however, if the course would increase campus safety.
“I think it’s just good information. I don’t know whether it’s going to help or not. Who knows?” Gavilanes asked.
Freshman Aurora Behlke already completed the Title IX training. She said she believes the program handled sensitive scenes in a healthy way by incorporating trigger warnings. She hopes that, overall, the training will raise student awareness about Title IX.
“There are always things where people go, ‘Oh yeah, I might have done something like this before,’ and sort of getting in touch with that I think is important,” Behlke said.
Behlke worried that not every student may take the training seriously.
“It’s good to see that this university is, you know, taking charge,” Behlke said, “but also it’s a bunch of videos online, and it’s really easy to go through them and not really watch them.”
Sophomore Fallon Podrazik said she received an email about the training, but was too busy with homework to begin. She agreed with the importance of the training, but believed it could only do so much for students.
“When it’s online, it doesn’t seem as personal,” Podrazik said. “Just being there physically in person has more of an impact, in my opinion, than, you know, just an email being sent out.”
Along with this, Podrazik said students will probably put the videos on in the background, since they sometimes prioritize homework. She added she may do this, as well.
“I know if this was going to be like, an hour, or something, I would put it on and listen to it, but still continue to work.” Podrazik said.
Pert said the Title IX office recognized students can be busy with other activities. She noted a committee is attempting to come up with positive reinforcements to encourage students to complete the training.
As one way to keep students informed, the university had residential assistants notify students on their floors.
Liska Hromnak, a resident assistant for East Hall, understood that many students may feel they do not have time to focus on the training because of homework. This led her to create a program in which residents on her floor could sit down one night and complete the training together. She said she would wait until then to begin the training.
“I figured I might as well save it and just do it then,” Hromnak said. “It’s setting that example of like, I’m gonna take time to sit down and get the whole thing done and make sure that I am paying attention to it and understanding everything completely.”
Savanna Hulbert, an RA for West 2 North, said she informed students with texts and by posting flyers on her floor. Hulbert first learned about the course during spring training for RAs. Hromnak learned about it in a Student Government Association meeting toward the end of the fall 2019 semester.
Pert said that Webster University began exploring online training as an educational method for Title IX resources and policies since 2018—around the same time vendors started offering online options in the higher-education market.
The university partnered with SafeColleges to provide the course. Pert explained the modules offered by SafeColleges best aligned with the university’s vision.
“[It] spoke to our diverse student body, while also offering very specific information for our employees.” Pert said.
The training also provides students a list of organizations associated with prevention and the after-effects of sexual violence. Pert added that the Title IX Office provides students with resources, as well. Students can learn more at webster.edu/sexual-misconduct.
As of Jan. 3, 1,153 students and 1,241 employees had completed the training. Pert said that while the training may not end all sexual assault and harassment on campus, it is important that everyone learn about Title IX.
“This is an uncomfortable topic, but ignoring it is not going to make it disappear,” Pert said. “As the module says ‘Not Anymore,’ The hope is that it will make our campuses safer places for all to work on them, attend school on them, attend events on them and call them ‘home.’”