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The Scarlet & Black

“Haven” educates on sexual misconduct

Only 60 percent of the student body has completed part one of Haven so far. Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.

By Megan Tcheng

All Grinnell students are now required to complete an online course called “Haven: Understanding Sexual Assault.” The program is offered through EverFi, a Washington-based education technology company, and aims to provide information about sexual misconduct on campus.

Haven is part of the Title IX committe’s movement to foster dialogues about sexual misconduct and sexual respect among the student body. With a curriculum that defines sexual misconduct, emphasizes personal activism and connects students to on and off campus resources, the program hopes to build on previous college-mandated programs. 

“If we’re serious about eliminating sexual violence, we have to reach people at many different levels and in many different ways. The online course is just a small piece of this,” said Angela Voos, the College’s Title IX coordinator. “Last year, we used My Student Body, but only 300 second, third and fourth years completed the course on a voluntary basis. What we really needed was a broad base of basic information. Ultimately, that’s why we chose EverFi.”

The course aims to set a standard for the promotion of social awareness throughout a student’s four years at Grinnell. Whereas policies of sexual misconduct were once limited to freshman orientation segments, the Title IX Committee hopes to build a curriculum of continued education.

“We realize that one class or intervention or informational session is not going to be enough to get people to change their behavior and think in different ways,” Voos said.

Initiated by Voos and Jen Jacobsen, Title IX Deputy for Prevention, completion of the 30-minute-long course is expected of all students before the end of the fall semester. Failure to complete the Haven course or contact Voos directly will hinder a student’s ability to register for spring semester courses.

Currently, roughly 66 percent of Grinnell students have completed the first portion of Haven. For many, the course calls attention to already familiar topics. Toby Baratta ’17, SGA Diversity & Outreach Coordinator and a former Grinnell Advocate, reflected on the potential shortcomings of the course in an email to The S&B.

Only 60 percent of the student body has completed part one of Haven so far. Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.
Only 60 percent of the student body has completed part one of Haven so far. Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.

“I like the idea of online education,” Baratta wrote. “However, I worry that folks aren’t getting what they need from [the course]. Many students took it as a ‘how fast can I get through this’ contest, felt that it was too basic or made light of sexual assault on campus or that it did not meet the [current] needs of this campus.”

Campus activist Maddie O’Meara ’17 shared a different impression.

“I do think that things like this show that administrators recognize that this is a problem,” O’Meara said. “I don’t think this [course] is exactly what’s needed, but it is a step towards ensuring that more of our campus is aware, educated and engaged.”

Altogether, the course stands as an important reminder of the reality of sexual misconduct at Grinnell.

“What is missing [at Grinnell] is the same thing that’s missing on a lot of other campuses. … There are assumptions about what a rapist looks like and acts like, but that’s not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of thing. We need to continue to hold our friends, our neighbors and more importantly our community to a higher standard of understanding.”

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