The University of Montana has implemented a mandatory new sexual assault tutorial for all students – and is it ever mandatory. The new program, Personal Empowerment Through Self Awareness – PETSA – requires all students to view a series of short videos on sexual assault.
But the next part is what’s really new and striking. Before they’ll be allowed to matriculate for the new semester, students will be required to take a follow-up quiz on the video presentations, on which it’s necessary to score 100%, otherwise no registration. Let’s have that once again: either you get every question in this quiz correct, or you won’t be allowed to enroll for the semester. I wonder what’s going to happen if significant numbers fail the quiz? I think I’d be tempted to flunk deliberately just to call the administration out.
Anyway, the new program was featured Wednesday in this IHE article, with some comments from NAS president Peter Wood.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with addressing genuine instances of sexual assault and seeking to ensure everyone’s personal safety, especially in view of a number allegations and actual charges which have arisen recently on the Montana campus.
But as Peter observes, it’s hard to avoid the impression that the Montana program seems to start by assuming that everyone is guilty. Should some actual cases arise, I’m not feeling terribly optimistic about adherence to the due process rights of the accused.