ST. CLOUD - With freshmen moving into St. Cloud State University later this week, every new student will be required to complete an online program to educate them on dating violence and sexual assault.

The University has had a new student sexual assault prevention program for over 20 years. The online course new students need to complete is called "Not Anymore". It addresses stalking, dating violence and sexual assault.

Lee LaDue is the gender violence prevention coordinator at the SCSU Women's Center, she says the program emphasizes the need to get verbal consent before engaging in sexual behavior.

"When I talk with students, it's just about knowing when you have consent. We need to be able to move into having verbal conversations compared to just non-verbal 'signs'."

St. Cloud State says sexual assault includes any attempted or threatened sexual act without a person's consent. Consent is defined as informed, freely given and mutually understood. If the other person is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired, there is no consent.

The policy definition also says silence does not necessarily constitute consent and past consent of sexual activities doesn't imply ongoing future consent.

LaDue says having honest, open communication is all it takes.

"Part of it is just conversation...and that's hard when you're 18 and it's hard at any age. We live in a society where sex is everywhere, it sells things and we make jokes about it. Yet as a culture, we're really bad at having honest conversations about sex."

Freshmen are also taught about bystander intervention in the program. The bystander program encourages students to speak out against sexist attitudes and prevent behaviors of sexual and other forms of violence. LaDue says it's important for indivduals to take a stand against sexist attitudes.

"It's looking at and challenging the typical gender roles. I think people get caught up in it and don't say anything because they're afraid of the repercussions but that's the very thing we need to do to change the culture."


Steven Wright