The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Photo by FILE

The 2020 Step In, Stand Up campaign for Texas A&M to combat and prevent sexual harassment and violence on campus has moved to an online format.

New for 2017, Texas A&M will require all students, at all levels and at all campuses, to complete an online sexual assault training program called Haven. Haven is an online training module for students, faculty, and staff to help educate about and prevent sexual assault.

Program Director at Sexual Assault Resource Center Tracey Canalog  worked together on the training as part of the sexual assault survivors services committee led by Kristin Harrell.

Haven training modules teach what students should do in the case that they see something happening or they themselves are involved in such events and follows the Green Dot training modules already on campus. 

“A lot of people don’t know what is really available to them, they don’t know the rights that victims of violent crimes have…so part of this training is to let the students, faculty and staff know that there are resources both on and off campus,” Canalog said. 

Heaven follows about the resources available to them and how to help their fellow Aggies. 

“There’s a lot of great things happening on campus to reduce risk, but also these are some things you can do as a friend,” Canalog said. “That way if they turn to you and say ‘this is what has happened to me, I don’t know what to do’ that you as their friend would be able to point them in the right direction as well.”

Haven is just one of many sources on campus for sexual assault awareness, prevention and assistance.  

“One of the great things about this training is that we are putting a lot of the myths out there to rest,” Canalog said. “This whole module was put together collaboratively by various organizations and leadership from different parts of A&M, and the collaboration that has happened to make this possible is overwhelmingly amazing for these survivors to have…that is definitely showing one of those Texas A&M is taking a stand against all of the harm that is being done to people.”

Title IX Coordinator Jennifer Smith said that all students will be required to take the training, including graduate students, and law students.

The training is given in two parts, with a mandatory 30-day break between the two sections. The first section must be completed by Sept. 22, and the second one by Nov. 17. If a student fails to complete the training, a registration hold will be placed on the student’s account.

“The university has the authority to set behavioral expectations and to uphold them,” Smith said. “This training is our way of communicating what those expectations are to our students. In other words, if students don’t know or understand the behavior that we are trying to prevent, then we won’t be very effective at preventing it. So this is our way of making sure that all students are aware of what our expectations are.”

Harrell said that while students can request an exemption from the training, each request is handled on a case-by-case basis.

Students reaction has been mixed, with some saying they are in favor of it, while others say it is superfluos and criticize the difficulty of getting an exemption from the training.

Feminism 4 Aggies public relations officer and psychology junior Marina Castañón-Villarreal said that she hopes to see the lessons learned through the program will stay with future A&M graduates and students. 

“With the new generations of people coming in hopefully it will just be eradicated, hopefully on all college campuses but maybe just at A&M,” Castanon said. “I think even if it helps one person or a small group of people understand what sexual harassment really is and how they can help other people and prevent it, I think in my opinion that’s awesome, even if it just helps one person.”

Aerospace engineering senior Angel Castrellon had a different view of the training, saying that while wasn’t in favor of the training, he understood why the school is doing it.

“It’s the school’s way of covering their bases in case something does happen, so they can say ‘we told them not to and we have stuff in place to prevent and address situations like this’,” Castrellon said.

Castrellon criticized the training, saying he feels that the school is putting its own agenda in place, without the student body getting a say.

“The idea is completely benign. The school can apply whatever requirements they deem necessary, and the employee has the freedom to go elsewhere,” Castrellon said. “The only potential I would see for contradiction is if taxpayer money is going toward this, then I would be more interested in the content of the course.” 

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