How we see it
Title IX training builds a safer campus, but only if it’s comprehensive and engaging.
A new population on campus now knows how to appropriately report and respond to instances of sexual assault or harassment: members of fraternities and sororities. They have been trained so they have the knowledge and resources needed to react to instances of sexual assault or harassment — a worthy goal.
But the training itself may have fallen short.
It’s great that administrators chose to make Title IX training mandatory for these students. But this training needs to be more engaging to actually make the hoped-for impact.
Jana Lynn Patterson, dean of Student Health and Wellness, requested that all members of the fraternity and sorority community train in Title IX policies so they are able to support each other and assist in reporting in case of any incidents, Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) Dan Faill said in an email.
Members of FSL were trained through an online Moodle course that allowed students to complete the training at their convenience. But it came at the cost of the training’s educational impact.
In the course, students took quizzes based on informational slides to demonstrate their understanding of Title IX policies. To pass the course, students had to answer all questions on all nine topics — a total of 30 questions — correctly. Students could take the quizzes an unlimited number of times until they got all questions correct.
Giving students unlimited attempts reduced any risk or challenge involved. Students didn’t even have to read the information to pass — they could guess on the quiz, look at the correct answers to the questions they got wrong and take it again until they got it right. Yes, students were forced to look over the information as they read the quiz questions, but the chances that they retained all — or any — of that knowledge is low.
According to a slide in one of the presentations that make up the course, the Title IX training program is designed to provide definitions of terms associated with Title IX violations, among other things.
Everyone — students, administrators, professors, staff and anyone else on campus — should understand what Title IX means and how it needs to be applied, and requiring members of FSL to take the training course is a step in that direction.
But great ideas do nothing when they’re poorly implemented. If the university is going to require FSL members to take the training, they need to put enough funds, planning and effort into it to make it as impactful and helpful as it’s meant to be. If the university is going to prioritize Title IX training for everyone in the FSL community, then it needs to take it seriously and do better than an online course.
Require everyone to attend training sessions in person, or build a more challenging online course. Offer optional sessions for people who want to learn more. If this is going to be a priority, treat it as one. Let’s make a commitment to put the time and energy necessary into making Title IX the protective law it’s meant to be.