Why the latest installment of Think About It was mandatory

The university’s Dean of Students said students and faculty were informed multiple times about the possible transcript hold as a consequence for not completing the program.

Think About It: Part 3 was released Nov. 2. to all students. The program was the third installment of a series of surveys and videos aiming to educate about consent, safe partying practices and healthy relationships.

Part 3 was the first mandatory module of the course. If students did not complete it by Dec. 1, a transcript hold was placed on their account.

Stephanie Ives, dean of students, said the transcript hold was the chosen consequence as “the best way to ensure compliance across the board” because it was the “least intrusive,” and still allowed students to register for classes.

Four emails were sent to all students throughout November reminding them to complete the program, as well as informing them of the transcript hold should they not complete it.

The university and the Dean of Students office also made social media posts about the module, Ives said.

The day the program was released, the original 60 characters used to describe the reason for the transcript hold on Banner was cut down to 30 characters, Ives said. “Sexual misconduct survey” was reduced to simply “misconduct,” and informed the student they had a transcript hold and provided the number or for the Dean of Students office.

Scott Gratson, the director of undergraduate studies in the School of Media and Communication, said a hold was placed on his account after he initially did not complete the survey.

Gratson is also an associate professor of strategic communications and a full-time faculty member, as well as a student, due to his Ph.D. candidacy in art history. Because of these conflicting titles, Gratson said he wasn’t sure whether it was mandatory he participate in the program as well.

“I’m officially a faculty member, I should not have to take it,” Gratson said, adding he does not have an Owl Card, or receive student benefits like free admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a Tyler School of Art student. Faculty members take a series of modules dealing with sexual assault and misconduct, he said.

Gratson said he contacted the Dean of Students’ Office and human resources to clarify his status and began the program, but was not able to complete it because his faculty exemption was cleared and the hold was taken off his account.

“Of all the possible punishments, it seems odd that this is the one that was selected,” Gratson said. “As a member of a university disciplinary committee …  that deals with punishment, we are told to match the punishment to the offense. How do these match?”

Gratson said he felt the transcript hold was not an appropriate consequence for those who did not complete the program and added that fees may have been a more effective measure.

“I don’t think the negative full-term effects were really, truly considered,” he said. “If something is going to be this big of an issue as it should be on this campus, there needs to be a deeper sense of due diligence.”

After students complete the program, the hold is removed from their account. As of Dec. 14, the program has reached 81 percent compliance, Ives said.

Think About It was created by the company CampusClarity. Over the past three summers, every incoming student has seen parts one and two during orientation.

The third part was utilized for continuity, Ives said.

“It was piloted in that all first year students have seen the program in the past,” she added. “Students might remember seeing the previous parts.”

Ives said a variety of programs like Haven by EverFi, Consent and Respect by 3rd Milennium Classrooms, ThinkLuv by Campus Outreach Services and the Sexual Violence Prevention Program by The San Diego State University Research Foundation were considered before Think About It was selected.

“It was more effective to go with an established company rather than create our own [program],” Ives said. “That would take more than a year and we wanted it to be more timely.”

Lian Parsons can be reached at lian.parsons@temple.edu or on Twitter @Lian_Parsons.

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