Northwestern forms Title IX education online course for faculty, staff

Benjamin Din, Digital Projects Editor

Northwestern faculty, staff and graduate and professional students are expected to complete an online training related to Title IX by January 29.

The course, “Preventing Sexual Misconduct and Sex Discrimination,” was released to faculty and staff during Fall Quarter 2015. The first-ever online training for all faculty and staff, it provides education on how to prevent sexual misconduct and respond in situations where they are notified by a student of sexual misconduct.

“Completing the course is essential to fulfilling our commitment to creating a campus climate where people understand their responsibilities to help prevent sexual misconduct,” Title IX coordinator Joan Slavin told The Daily in an email.

Under Title IX, faculty and staff are required to report issues of sexual misconduct. However, Erin Clark, assistant director of NU’s Center for Awareness, Response and Education, said faculty and staff in the past have not had training on how to do so.

“This (training) is a big, exciting step to make sure those reports are consistent and done with compassion, too,” Clark said. “It’s something that has been a long time coming, and having something that is supported by the University and disseminated so widely is really important.”

Slavin, who led the effort for the training, said the course has been in the works for more than a year and is customized for NU. Despite the large scale of the project, its implementation has been smooth, she said. The course takes an average of 45 minutes to complete, and has generally received positive feedback, she added. Comments made by participants in an optional survey will be considered as the course continues to be revised.

The course was announced to faculty and staff in December, and graduate and professional schools will announce the training to their students next week, Slavin said. As of Tuesday, nearly 4,000 staff and more than 2,000 faculty have completed the course, she said.

In September, NU released results from its 2015 Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Misconduct, which found that, while at NU, nearly one in three women have been groped without consent. Slavin said the training is not a direct result of those findings.

“Though the climate survey did not prompt the course, the climate survey results illustrate the importance of this training,” she said.

Undergraduate students complete two Essential NUs: Agent of Change, a different online module, and Sexual Health, an on-campus live presentation during Wildcat Welcome.

Clark said she hopes faculty and staff will continue to gain knowledge on the issue by taking advantage of Support Starts Here, a training program CARE launched in the fall. The program focuses on training faculty, staff and students in how to support survivors by developing skills, asking questions and role-playing, she said.

University President Morton Schapiro, who has completed the online course, said a section of the course focused on how to maintain a student’s trust while following the law to report sexual misconduct particularly interested him.

“You’re not trained as a faculty member about that, so I feel much better positioned now as a professor on what to do if things happen,” Schapiro told The Daily in December. “I thought it was very, very well done.”

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