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How One University Uses New-Student Orientation to Talk About Sexual Assault

Starting with the bystander-intervention training, new students at the University of Richmond spend three to four hours over several days engaging with the difficult topic of campus sexual assault. At Richmond, there are three mandatory programs devoted to sexual-assault education at orientation, and the topic factors into discussions at other events for incoming students.

At many colleges, orientation, which often takes place over the summer or just before fall classes begin, serves as students’ introduction to the issues of sexual assault and consent. Those topics have become major priorities for colleges as public attention on their handling of sexual-assault cases has intensified. Richmond is one of dozens of colleges where sexual-violence complaints are under investigation for possible violations of the federal gender-equity law known as Title IX.