Orientation and Welcome Week include more sexual assault education

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Changes to incoming-student orientations and to Welcome Week aim to emphasize more sexual-assault awareness programs and provide greater programming for students to adjust to life at UC Berkeley.

The incoming-student orientations held over the summer, called CalSO, required the completion of Haven, an online sexual-assault education program. Welcome Week, comprising the programming and back-to-school events held in the first week of school, will be extended to three weeks and is now called Getting Your Bearings.

During the first week of school, incoming students will also participate in Bear Pact, a sexual assault awareness program. Bear Pact, a presentation that is being offered for the first time, will inform students about sexual violence and harassment, mental health and alcohol use, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

“The workshop will include an introduction to terminology associated with these issues and tips on bystander intervention,” Gilmore said in an email. “Students will participate in scenarios and decision-making presentations.”

Chrissy Roth-Francis, director of New Student Services, said in an email that this year’s CalSO sessions also had more interactive presentations and sessions, individual academic advising, sessions for students to customize schedules and programming around issues of privilege and diversity.

Before attending CalSO, students completed Haven, which included information about sexual assault, relationship violence and bystander skills.

Incoming UC Berkeley freshman Ivana Saric, who finished Haven before CalSO, said although UC Berkeley’s efforts to increase awareness of sexual assault and alcohol use were “admirable,” she did not think the program would be effective.

“The program more or less regurgitates information that students have been told countless times before, in a rather cheesy way,” Saric said in an email. “Therefore, I doubt the program will effectively teach students how to help prevent sexual assault, or deter from drinking, because the ‘lessons’ in the program are presented in a slightly caricatured manner.”

Gilmore said new members of the Greek system will also be trained in September to understand issues involving sexual assault such as consent and victim-blaming behaviors.

According to Gilmore, UC Berkeley is also launching a public-awareness campaign to inform individuals about where to get help for sexual violence and harassment.

“The campaign will connect educational and training programs across campus that are related to sexual harassment and violence and highlight the widespread promotions created to enhance knowledge of helpful campus services,” Gilmore said.

During Getting Your Bearings, students have three weeks to attend about 300 events, including Calapalooza, the DeCal Expo, department open houses and a resource fair.

Roth-Francis said these changes were made because events were scheduled inefficiently during Welcome Week, so students were only attending about four of the 200 events offered during the period.

Contact Sophie Mattson at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @MattsonSophie.