Violence Intervention & Prevention orientation presentation to move online

The UC Davis Summer Orientation program will experience changes in summer 2014. One such change is a shift of the popular Violence Interpretation & Prevention (VIP) presentation from in-person to online.

The VIP presentation, which includes the popular “How to Be Sexcessful” handbook, is a mandatory workshop that educates students on topics regarding sexual assault, dating, domestic violence, stalking, reporting options and campus and community resources for support. The presentation has been offered at summer orientations and throughout the year for students unable to attend orientation since 2011. It is presented by Sarah Meredith, Campus Violence Prevention Program Education and Outreach coordinator.

According to Meredith, the VIP presentation is part of a mandatory requirement by the AB 1088 Law and a Department of Justice grant received by the UC system in 2010. AB 1088 requires college campuses in California to educate students and staff about violent crimes and information regarding sexual assault, either in written form or in-person.

“The curriculum for VIP was designed by Campus Violence Prevention Program (CVPP) staff, with input from UC Davis students and campus and community partners,” Meredith said in an email interview. “In 2010, the format for delivering the VIP workshop to all incoming undergraduate students, first-year and transfer students, was to offer several in-person sessions during the first week of school.”

The workshops then changed to be included at new student orientations in 2011.

Undeclared life sciences major and first-year Kendall Frisoli said that she enjoyed the VIP presentation when she went to orientation during summer 2013.

“I think it livened up the monotonous talks,” Frisoli said. “It added variety and I also saw a positive response from other kids. It’s good to assure that everyone will get the information online, but I think that in-person interactions are more beneficial.”

Meredith said registration holds were issued to students who did not complete the orientation program, thus also not completing the mandatory VIP workshop. The decision to go online was made because of the difficulty of gathering students and requiring them to attend the workshop if they had not attended orientation.

“While I can say that I really like having the opportunity to present the workshop in-person, and interact with students face-to-face, I do not have any evidence that the in-person workshop is more effective in its educational goals than an online format,” Meredith said. “I also know that there are significant challenges in the way of tracking students’ attendance [at orientation], as well as barriers with regards to student access to the in-person program.”

Meredith said that the change from in-person to online format will not affect the content of the presentation. The goal is to continue the presentation as being both interactive and informative, and the presentation will continue to be mandatory for all students.

“Currently, there is a team of very talented design staff working to make the online VIP program highly interactive and informative on the topics of sexual assault, consent, intimate partner violence, stalking, resources, UC Davis policies, reporting options [and] bystander intervention,” Meredith said. “In addition to the mandatory VIP program, various campus resources currently offer comprehensive education on these topics.”

Since 2011, the presentation has included a booklet illustrating “How to be Sexcessful” and a campus resource crisis card for every student.

“The ‘Sexcessful’ booklet was created by a group of students participating in the Davis Honors Challenge under the guidance of the Health Education & Promotion (HEP) sexual health educator,” Meredith said. “There was also significant student and campus partner input on the development of this resource.”

Teaching students how to be “sexcessful” is currently a campaign that is part of the HEP services on campus. The campaign is utilized by the VIP staff but is run separately by HEP during the rest of the year. Being “sexcessful” can be defined subjectively by anyone who uses the term, but it has a basis around maintaining healthy and consensual sexual relationships.

“Having a healthy sexual relationship and good foundation in a relationship is what being ‘sexcessful’ is to me,” said Sammy Lee, an HEP intern. “College is a time for new experiences, specifically exploring new sexual experiences. I think it’s important to teach incoming students about this topic and to respect themselves and others.”

The VIP presentation is not the only one that will be changing to an online format for upcoming and future orientations. Catrina Wagner, director for New Student Academic Services,  said that other presentations are changing to an online format, including ones on Financial Aid, Student Accounting and Student Health and Counseling Services. Unlike the VIP presentation, these programs are not required by law and will not be mandatory.

“The goal is to allow students to watch these presentations online and think of questions to bring to orientation,” Wagner said. “This will also allow family members to think of more focused questions to ask in-person.”

Wagner said that the decision to change these presentations to an online format was made after looking at responses from surveys given to students and family members who attended orientation. Because this is the first time that the orientation program is trying the new format, the orientation staff is waiting to look at upcoming surveys to decide how the procedure will happen in future orientations.

According to Wagner, the now-online presentations will remain in the in-person family program schedule and will allow for students “more time for advising, class scheduling and social activities.”

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