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Incoming freshman learn about sexual assault during orientation

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Orientation is a right of passage for all DePaul students, and this year, as part of orientation and the discover and explore classes, freshmen will have to do AlcoholEdu and Haven modules, focusing on alcohol abuse and sexual and relationship violence prevention.

The orientation process itself functioned as usual: The office of Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) gave their presentation about sexual and relationship violence, but added sections about harassment. HPW partnered with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity to talk about harassment and Karen Tamburro, Title IX coordinator, and Cheryl Wayne, Title IX investigator, to talk about Title IX with new students.

Hannah Retzkin, sexual and relationship violence prevention specialist, said that the overall goal of the presentation, and the new modules, are to continue to support and promote the “Take Care DePaul” message. That message, which focuses on students taking care of themselves, taking care of each other and taking care of DePaul, is also a central part of the modules.

“We give them a lot of information in a short amount of time, but we want to help them connect the dots,” Retzkin said. “This is meant to start a conversation. We know they’re not walking out with all of the information digested, but we hope they have a basic understanding of consent and what the policies are.”

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DePaul Division of Student Affairs outlines the Haven and AlcholEdu courses on its website. (Graphics by Jacqueline Lin/The DePaulia)

In years past, the two modules were combined into a shorter module students take. The separation this year allows for two narrowed focuses that can go more in-depth and also help HPW and other offices gather data on students to be of more use to them.

Haven is a recent best practice to have students connect to the materials they learn in the presentation in other ways, Retzkin said.

“It can be hard to retain information from orientation,” Retzkin said. “Haven can be helpful for students because they can do it on their own, but it is homework. They fill out surveys, and in the first six weeks we get information back on past experiences and whether or not anything has  happened to them in the first six weeks.”

The course map for Haven details nine sections that touch on topics ranging from “connections,” wherein students take individualized courses on values and spotting red flags; “be yourself,” which includes sections on culture and expectations, as well as sexual assault in college; and “join the conversation,” which touches on consent and stepping in, among other things.

Madeleine Williamson, a freshman who moved to the city from Atlanta, felt that the orientation experience was educational, enlightening her on issues in college that she had not heard before.

“The Sexual and Relationship Violence presentation was great for me because it wasn’t something I heard about in high school,” Williamson said. “I hope they keep it up. There was a lot of information thrown at us at once, but its important to know that before moving in.”

The AlcoholEdu module covers 12 subject areas, including standard drinks and drinking motivation, as well as the impact of drinking on the brain and body.

Retzkin said that the presentation covered harm reduction, and Haven may also focus on aspects of this. For students the experience and the modules fit into their busy schedules.

“It was a very welcoming experience (overall),” Marilyn Martinez said. “I think the presentations make students feel more comfortable on and off campus.”

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Incoming freshman learn about sexual assault during orientation