Montana

Aug 23, 2012 6:49 AM by Phil Buck - MTN News

New sexual assault prevention program up and running at UM

MISSOULA - The first day of Fall classes are scheduled to get started at the University of Montana on Monday, and students have already begun arriving in town and moving into the dorms.

They're quickly finding that UM has made some changes in response to recent reports of sexual assault on campus and within the community. Reporter Phil Buck spoke with UM Residence Life Director Sandy Schoonover about what's new on campus.

It's a busy week on the University of Montana campus. "We're open, we're up and running and checking in students on an hourly basis right now," Schoonover said Wednesday.

Schoonover is just beginning her third year on the job and has spent part of her summer implementing new ways to educate and protect the 3,500 students living in University of Montana housing.

All of the students who are living on campus will now have to participate in mandatory programs aimed at improving student safety and security. Meanwhile, resident assistants also have to go through a special training on their role in mandatory reporting of crimes on campus.

"We're also know, with respect to sexual assault, that there are ancillary issues that are associated with that - particularly alcohol - and so we also do a big program called 'Beer Goggles.' It's a mandatory program so all our residence assistants bring their students over for...the multi-media presentation that we work on with the health center," Schoonover explained.

Schoonover can't actually force the students to take part in these programs, so the school has offered a number of high-priced incentives, including hundreds of dollars in gift certificates to the University Bookstore, as well as an iPad drawing.

She told us that the students aren't the only ones taking notice. "There was some enthusiastic feedback from the parents saying they thought that was a good approach from the University's standpoint."

All University of Montana students must also take an online tutorial on sexual assault this semester, whether they live in University housing or not.

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