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Sunday, February 25, 2024

New UHS program seeks to prevent sexual assaults

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is attempting to increase awareness and prevent sexual assault violence on campus with a new online program that all first-year students are expected to complete.

University Health Services and the Division of Student Life at UW-Madison helped produce the "Tonight" program based on UW student and staff input as well as statistics about sexual assault on campus.

Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment Chair Meagan Minster said programs like "Tonight" educate students about obtaining consent and what bystanders can do in sexual assault scenarios.

"Sexual assault [is] a community problem," Minster said. "We really encourage students to learn about it both for their own benefit and to be…able to help their friends if it would happen to them."

Students who do not know the definitions of rape and dating violence show "the highest risk for both perpetration and…failure to intervene," according to the "Tonight" program's website.

Many of the students the Daily Cardinal spoke with had not heard of the program or looked into it.

UW-Madison Freshman Sam Cucci, a student who has completed the "Tonight" program, said it taught her how to interfere in an instance of possible sexual assault "without making a big deal about it" and give advice to a person who may be in an abusive relationship.

"I thought it was very helpful for students to like be forced to watch that," Cucci said. "It made me realize that [sexual assault] is very serious and common."

First-year students can access the program through Learn@UW, and other students can find more information at www.uhs.wisc.edu/tonight.

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