Last month, students received an email from CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison, Ph.D. requiring completion of “Agent of Change,” an online education course that provides information about sexual violence and provides opportunities to practice skills for preventing sexual violence, or have a hold placed on their Fall 2015 registration.
Though the original email gave April 6 as the deadline, Hua said that students have until the final deadline of April 17, 2015 to complete the “Agent of Change” online educational course, or a hold will be placed on their Fall 2015 registration for classes.
The website for the CSUN Division of Student Affairs explains that the initiative for students to complete the online course comes from the enactment of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. This law, as enacted in March 2013, requires “universities to provide sexual violence prevention and awareness programs that educate students about prohibitions, reporting procedures, the university’s response to incidents and resources for victims.”
“Agent of Change” is a survey that uses animated first-person role-play scenarios that allow users to engage with characters in various settings.
Theatre student Brandon Alvarez is more ahead of the game. He’s finished the course, but isn’t sure that the video game format is the best way to get real responses.
“I don’t know if people will really be truthful,” said Alvarez. “Some of the scenarios are pretty obvious about the answers that they want you to choose.”
The “Agent of Change” training tool was created by We End Violence, an organization that defines itself as a “social business.” On their website, We End Violence makes this distinction because it means that the company “does charge for its services and does seek to make a profit, however, it does so “in order to reinvest those profits into the business, allowing (them) to provide even more services.”
We End Violence is the collaboration of two former UC Santa Barbara educators, Jeffrey S. Bucholtz and Carol Mosely. Both worked on programs that addressed the elimination of violence against women.
Bucholtz and Mosely formed We End Violence to offer educational programs and materials to businesses and universities that were looking for a practical team to provide support for any violence prevention campaign.
Susan Hua, CSUN Title IX Coordinator, was not part of the work group that selected “Agent of Change,” but she outlined the process that brought the online course to the student community for the majority of the CSUN campuses.
Hua mentioned the criteria for choosing the educational program included taking into consideration the comprehensive coverage of topics such as sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and sexual violence; allowing options for customization; a learning appeal to the target audience, degree of engagement, and inclusivity; and content that was evidence-based and data-driven.
“The work group regarded “Agent of Change” as having addressed the (necessary) criteria and it is also endorsed by the White House Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault,” said Hua.
“Students only have to complete the entire educational course once,” said Hua. “However, all students will receive periodic “refresher”-type educational programs, at least annually, to ensure that they are aware of how to handle and report incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence.”
If students have any questions about the course or CSUN’s procedures for reporting sexual and/or gender-based violence or stalking, they are encouraged to contact the Office of Equity and Diversity at (818) 677-2077.