An online training program created at USF is quickly becoming a national model for educating college students about sexual violence and substance abuse.
“Existing programs weren’t very effective, so we produced our own” says Peter Novak, USF’s vice provost of student life, who developed the idea for “Think About It.”
Nearly 70 universities have adopted the program, including large state universities like Idaho State and Ball State, and private universities such as Georgetown, Yale, and Occidental. Others plan to implement it this fall.
“Think About It” addresses four main topics: sexuality, drugs and alcohol, sexual violence, and healthy relationships. The program is required for all incoming USF students, and more than 2,000 have completed it since its introduction in August 2012.
“Sixty percent of sexual assaults on college campuses involve alcohol, and if we want to help students reduce their risk, it is critical that they understand the strong relationship between substance abuse and sexual assault,” Novak said. He continued, “We must also address the underlying cultural assumptions about power, relation- ships, and communication.”
The 2013 Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act requires all universities to provide prevention and awareness programs as part of a comprehensive response to sexual misconduct. As Novak recently explained on the KQED radio program “Forum with Michael Krasny,” “Think About It” helps universities meet these requirements in an informative and engaging way.
“We’re a Jesuit Catholic school,” Novak told radio listeners during the hour-long radio show, “and I think the expectation from students is that because of that we cannot talk about sexual relationships, and I think we have a duty and an obligation to do exactly that.”
“Think About It” has won national awards, including a Gold Excellence Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), and a Gold Stevie® from the American Business Awards for best training website. It was established with the financial support of Phillip and Susan Marineau through the Marineau Family Foundation, and developed by CampusClarity, a service of LawRoom, in close collaboration with USF.