As the former Tonight program comes to an end, University Health Services has adopted a new program to help educate incoming freshmen about sexual assault.
With the focus of working on updating campus policy on sexual assault and increasing staff to provide more victim support, UHS will require all first-year and incoming transfer students to complete a new interactive violence prevention training program called U Got This!.
The replacement of the Tonight program was something UHS has seen coming since the program was intended to be used for three to five years, UHS violence prevention specialist Alex Nelson said. Online programs, especially those that are video-based like Tonight, tend to get outdated “pretty quickly.”
Initially, Nelson said UHS approached the Tonight program with a short term model, expecting it to become outdated because policy changes happen often and resources shift.
Instead of being video-based, U Got This! has a narrator and an animation component to it, Nelson said. The program has a “choose your own adventure” approach, where students can respond to the narrator with their own responses.
“When you give a snarky response to the program, the program will give you a snarky response in return,” Nelson said. “In a similar vein, when you are responding honestly and genuinely interacting with the program in a meaningful way, you’ll get a lot of positive encouragement.”
Even though the Tonight program was informative, UHS peer educator Allie Little said U Got This! is more entertaining because of the interactive components.
U Got This! covers similar topics to Tonight, such as sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, sexual harassment and stalking, but it does so by looking at the topics through a cultural perspective, Nelson said.
“[Tonight] focused on individual behaviors in a specific context at one point,” Nelson said. “U Got This! takes a step back and looks at it a little bit more culturally and a little bit more broadly. It looks at the messages our society has around gender-based violence and how, in some ways, our society condones gender-based violence.”
In addition, U Got This! feels more like “one conversation” instead of separate topics put into one program, Little said.
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Along with completing the U Got This! program, first-year and incoming transfer students will be required to complete a 90-minute Get WIse workshop during their first semester.
The workshops expand on topics found in U Got This!, Little said. Some of the topics covered in the workshops are healthy sexuality, sexual violence, healthy dating, how to support survivors and bystander intervention, Nelson said.
This in-person component was introduced last year.
“In our focus groups, both students and campus partners rated U Got This! as highest scoring in user engagement, alignment with campus culture and prevention theory,” Nelson said. “This is a very highly rated program by students, and I think we have a very exciting semester ahead of us in seeing how the incoming class feels about it.”
The program will be available to students Aug. 1.