Safety awareness classes made mandatory

Photo by Meghna Das

Recently, the University System of Georgia Task Force on Campus Safety and Security, which is co-chaired by Tech president G.P. “Bud” Peterson, instituted a plan to properly inform incoming students regarding sexual assault and misconduct.

Starting this fall, all incoming undergraduate students enrolled in University System of Georgia (USG) schools will be required to complete two online courses: “AlcoholEdu” and “Haven: Understanding Sexual Assault”; graduate students need only complete Haven. AlcoholEdu provides students with important information regarding how to make informed decisions with alcohol as well as ways to cope with the drinking habits of their peers. The course is designed in a way that students who choose to consume alcohol and those that choose not to can both benefit. Haven addresses the issues of sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking.

“Each program offers pre- and post-surveys that yield a robust database on first-year students’ experiences, behaviors and attitudes,” said Vladimir Oge, the Director of Health Promotion at the Stamps Health Center. “The data helps inform future programming and can be compared to the national aggregate and customized peer group results.”

Unlike in years past, Tech chose to partner with a new vendor, EverFi, to provide the two courses.

“While we have a long-standing history providing online health education to first-year students, this marks the first year that online health programming has been required of all incoming students,” Oge said. “Additionally, including the Haven program marks the first time we provided a course that specifically focuses on sexual assault prevention.”

The institution of these new courses occurred as a result of both federal legislation and efforts by the Institute to maintain a safe environment. Recent federal legislation has led to an increase in mandated actions with regards to sexual violence prevention, education and response on university campuses.

“Institute recommendations from both the Mental Health Task Force and the Sexual Violence Task Force included the expansion of prevention education efforts,” Oge said. “Georgia Tech strives to achieve and lead compliance efforts with federal requirements outlined in the Campus SaVe Act, the Clery Act, Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act.”

Both surveys together take roughly two hours in total to complete fully. Additionally, there are plans to eventually expand this requirement of completing this new form of special training to all of the current students, faculty and staff.