Beginning Autumn 2016, incoming undergraduate, graduate and professional students will be required to take a new online program aimed at preventing sexual assault.
Ohio State recently announced Buckeye ACT, a program to combat sexual assault. The online training being implemented next year is part of the initiative.
“Buckeyes ACT is a comprehensive program that puts together our existing efforts in prevention and awareness around campus sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking,” said Kellie Brennan, compliance director and Title IX officer in the Office of University Compliance and Integrity.
Brennan said the three-part program will focus on action, counseling and training.
Training has been available to students online since Sept. 22, but it is not required for current students, Brennan said.
A university task force of students, faculty and staff will also be appointed to survey the results of the Association of American Universities’ campus climate survey released Tuesday, Brennan said. OSU was one of 27 college campuses across the country that participated in the survey.
The university plans to survey students again in 2016 and in 2017 about the sexual assault climate on campus, according to a university press release.
Buckeyes ACT included recommendations from the Undergraduate Student Government Sexual Violence Task Force provided in Spring 2015.
Varsha Challapally, a second-year in political science and economics and a USG senator, was on that task force.
“People would be surprised by how prevalent sexual violence is,” Challapally said. “I was on the Sexual Violence Task Force last year, and we surveyed about 700 students on Ohio State’s campus, and some of the responses we got were really surprising and shocking. We think that it’s a really important issue to tackle head-first and inspire change.”
It’s unknown how much money the initiative will cost, but Brennan said OSU plans to hire multiple new positions for investigators, counselors and advocates.
While the university already has multiple programs to combat sexual assault, Brennan said current campaigns, such as Buckeyes Got Your Back and Consent is Sexy, two ongoing campaigns the university has worked on, could be improved.
“What we want to do is look at what we are already engaged in and how we can do more to reach more students in different ways,” Brennan said.
She said she hopes students will be comfortable reporting sexual assaults through the new initiative through this new initiative.
“We take all reports and all incidents of sexual assault very seriously. This is a very huge concern for us, especially in light of the campus climate survey results, and what we’ve learned over the course of the many years that we’ve been engaged in prevention and awareness,” Brennan said. “The thing that we need to take away is a realization that one assault is too many, and that we are seeing this happen on our campus and we need to engage students.”