University Health Services has taken it upon itself to create a brand new sexual assault awareness program titled Tonight. The program is an interactive video that asks students to evaluate situations and reflect on how they would react.
Most of the concepts are pretty rudimentary and everyone in college has probably seen a video that teaches similar things by this point. However, Tonight incorporates a few things that other videos lack: slightly better acting, updated scenarios and an interactive format, all of which make it a beneficial resource.
When the characters in a sex-ed video sniff out sketchy situations like Fred and Velma from Scooby Doo, you know you have a problem. Sexual assault exists, but people are generally not searching for offenders, and videos come off as extremely gimmicky when the actors pretend they do.
Tonight is more compatible with this idea. The first potential assault is noticed in passing, giving everyone time to think through what is going on and assess whether or not action is necessary. The acting isn’t perfect, of course, but the people seem more like people and less like actors, making it more accessible to students.
The problem of unrelatable characters is remedied by putting the students in normal clothes, filming them walking down an identifiable Madison street, and showing them entering the basement of a typical house party. While not all the dialogue is believable, the majority of the scenarios are plausible, meaning it is applicable to new students. The program hits into the heart of real student life, showing freshman what they can actually expect and giving them something to refer to when they encounter a similar situation.
Really, the only problem with the Tonight program is that it’s mandated for new students. Talking about consent at this point feels a bit like beating a dead horse, and though the video is wonderful it seems like it would better serve its purpose if it were optional or shown in conjunction with certain classes.
For example, joining Tonight with a FIG that focused on something like Women’s Studies or Sociology would allow it to reach an audience that was really interested in the material and promote discussion about the material. The way it is now, UHS may find many first years clicking through the scenes, volume muted as they watch the latest episode of Glee.
Kate is sophomore majoring in English and Spanish. Please send all feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.