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New University-wide Mandatory Training on Sexual Misconduct

Online training modules for faculty, staff, and students to begin next fall

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  • BU is instituting mandatory online sexual misconduct training for all faculty, staff, and students
  • Online trainings were made mandatory for BU faculty and staff in 2014, made optional for students in 2016
  • The online trainings will define acceptable and unacceptable behavior and give information about campus policies, procedures, resources, and contacts

Against a backdrop of growing national recognition of the pervasiveness of sexual misconduct in the workplace in the wake of the #MeToo movement, Boston University is preparing to launch mandatory online sexual misconduct prevention training for all faculty, staff, grad students, and undergrads. BU first instituted mandatory online training for faculty and staff in 2014, and made a similar training optional for students. The new trainings are set to begin this fall.

“At a time of heightened awareness around sexual misconduct, it is vital that Boston University makes clear its intolerance of any such conduct or behavior,” Jean Morrison, provost and chief academic officer, wrote in a letter to the University community February 21. “Boston University is committed to ensuring that all members of our community are afforded a respectful environment in which to work and study. In short, we take the matter of sexual misconduct very seriously.”

She says the two primary goals of the online training are “first, to provide the information necessary for everyone in our community to fully understand what constitutes sexual misconduct and to ensure they are aware of the resources, policies, and procedures available to them, and second, to demonstrate and reaffirm our steadfast commitment to creating a respectful environment in which to learn and work.”

The online trainings will be overseen by the University’s Equal Opportunity Office in collaboration with the Student Health Services and Human Resources. Kim Randall, executive director of equal opportunity and Title IX coordinator, says the new effort is designed to educate faculty, staff, and students about how to recognize sexual misconduct, how to have an appropriate conversation with anyone who reports sexual misconduct, how to help direct survivors of sexual misconduct to the proper University or off-campus resources, and how to report the incident to proper authorities, like one of multiple deputy coordinators across campus.

The new trainings use an improved platform (EverFi) that is meant to be simpler and more time-efficient, Randall says. The online training will consist of separate modules for undergrads, grad students, and faculty and staff. BU currently uses Everfi’s substance use prevention training program, AlcoholEdu for College, for students.

Nedra Abbruzzese-Werling, associate vice president for compliance, says one of the reasons the University chose the EverFi platform is because it updates content “on an ongoing basis in response to changes to law and best practices, with a strong focus on using the latest research-based prevention information.” The platform sends out reminder emails to those who haven’t completed the training, and keeps track of who has yet to finish the training.

Randall says her office has been working for years to make the whole BU community more cognizant of sexual misconduct, and departments have increasingly reached out to the office for help training their staff, faculty, and grad students. “It’s something people are looking for now as awareness increases,” she says. “There’s more desire for more knowledge and education.”

Last April, the Association of American Universities published a report on sexual assault and sexual misconduct on US campuses. It included several specific actions and programs that BU has undertaken to prevent and address sexual assault and misconduct on campus. For instance, the University’s Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center provides sexual violence prevention programming and other trainings for students and BU community members, among them Step Up Step In BU, a course that teaches bystander intervention and prevention. And the College of Arts & Sciences offers the course FY101 for first-year students, which contains programming on healthy consent and communication.

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Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

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