As NIU welcomes its newest Huskies to their first semester, the Office of Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity and Education (AAEOE) is seeking the assistance of the campus community to help make sure all new first-year and transfer students complete Student Sexual Misconduct Awareness and Prevention Training.
Required by the state, this online training helps prepare students to navigate social and romantic situations that may be new to them. They will also learn what it means to be an active bystander and how to safely intervene when they see behaviors that could be harmful to others. Ultimately, new Huskies will come away with knowledge about sexual misconduct, the necessity of consent and resources available to all students.
“Our newest students are entering an environment that may be very unfamiliar to them,” said Rose M. J. Henton, director of coordinated education, training and outreach programs within AAEOE. “This critical training will help them do their part in creating a caring and safe environment for living and learning.”
Students have received a message in their NIU email accounts announcing that the module is available via Blackboard and must be completed before Oct. 15, 2020. AAEOE, part of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ADEI), is seeking support from across the university to encourage new students to take the training as early as possible in the semester.
“Many new Huskies are at their most vulnerable during the first few weeks of the semester, so we want to get this information into their hands as soon as possible,” said Allison Hurlburt, the program coordinator within AAEOE who oversees the training.
Hurlburt joined NIU this spring after serving as a sexual assault advocate for an agency in Iowa, which involved partnering closely with Title IX officials at a university.
Henton and Hurlburt are both part of a team within ADEI helping provide a more coordinated approach to sexual misconduct that aims to put the needs of survivors first through enhanced partnerships and advocacy. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, the group has worked closely with NIU’s Department of Police and Public Safety, the DeKalb Police Department, Title IX personnel, Student Affairs and other departments at NIU.
As part of those efforts, NIU has forged closer bonds with Safe Passage, an agency in DeKalb serving victims of domestic and sexual violence. Starting this fall, Safe Passage advocates will be available to the campus community 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help survivors receive timely and ongoing support.
“We want to provide the best possible assistance to our students and make sure they feel connected to all the resources available to them,” said Henton. “Our hope in aligning the efforts of NIU and these local agencies is to ensure a comprehensive, compassionate response – which can reduce the stigma survivors may experience.”