University of Minnesota works to prevent sexual assault

U of M file photo

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The University of Minnesota is rolling out a multi-step initiative next year aimed at preventing sexual misconduct by changing campus culture.

The plan was created by a task force University President Eric Kaler created in response to growing sexual misconduct concerns, Minnesota Daily reported.

"The goal is to promote an environment that is as safe and free from sexual misconduct as we, as a university community, can make it," said John Finnegan, dean of the School of Public Health and head of the sexual assault task force.

The first step will require university employees to go through an online sexual assault prevention training module starting in January. The training focuses on workplace sexual harassment and educating employees on how to respond to student sexual misconduct, said Tina Marisam, the university's Title IX director.

The second phase of training will involve in person department-level training, though officials haven't yet worked out the details, Marisam said.

"We have a culture in our country that empowers people to act badly toward other people. We need to change that," Kaler said. "Part of this effort is to understand that the perpetrator's action ... is a consequence of the culture and structure around him or her that is causing that action. We need to get to a place where that kind of behavior is not acceptable."

Students will also go through a mandatory online training beginning next fall. That training focuses on bystander intervention.

"If we see something, we have to say something or do something to stop it," Kaler said.