USC implemented a new affirmative consent training program for incoming students on Sept. 9. The Trojans Respect Consent workshops are part of a new initiative headed by the director of Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention and Services at USC Student Health.
“It is the first time that all incoming students will be receiving the same info and have the opportunity to discuss affirmative consent,” Diane Medsker, a specialist at USC Student Health, told Annenberg Media. “I’m really excited that this is finally happening.”
While not all freshmen have completed the workshop, they will be required to sign up for one in the coming weeks.
The 90-minute workshops are intended to help students build effective communication skills about sexual violence, consent, and other issues, and train them how to respond to different situations they may face during their time at college and beyond.
Each workshop contains a maximum of 20 students in a room with an instructor. Annenberg Media spoke to multiple first-year students about their expeirence.
Emily Fang, had positive feedback for the workshop, especially for her instructor.
"My instructor was really good," Fang said. "She seemed like she really wanted to hear our feedback."
Fang felt her instructor did a great job making the workshop engaging and interactive, while still communicating a lot of important information to the students.
“She was really knowledgeable about everything we were talking about,” Fang told Annenberg Media. “She made an effort to make it interactive and fun.”
During the workshops, students are given several scenarios and asked how they would respond. For example, Fang described being given a scenario where one person was giving unwanted advances to another and having to choose between four responses.
USC freshmen are required to complete several other online training, as well. One of which, titled Think About It, deals with many of the same topics as the in-person workshops.
Haily Irwin, told Annenberg Media the workshops were a little redundant.
"[The in-person workshop] was basically the online course," said Irwin.
When asked if she thought it was helpful, Irwin was hesitant.
"I didn't learn anything new," Irwin said. She added that she had already learned much of the material during an event put on by her high school. Irwin said for other students who didn’t have her same experiences in high school, the workshop might be more useful.
Although many students feel the content is similar, they say they would prefer an in-person workshop.
Gregory Fische, said there were a lot of benefits to going to an in-person training.
“I think that if you’re forced to put your phone down...and have real conversations with peers, that’s a lot more effective,” said Fischer. He added that the online course often leads to students skipping through without paying much attention.
In weighing the two courses, Fang said she liked the in-person more.
"It was more interactive," said Fang. "I didn't feel like I was going to fall asleep."
Eli Simon, had a different opinion.
"A person can show up [to the in-person workshop] and not pay attention at all," said Simon.
Although he has not yet taken his workshop, Simon believes taking courses online is more effective.
"It forces you to pay attention because there are quizzes...at the end," said Simon.
Medsker said the new workshops will help push standardized sexual education for incoming students.
“The workshop is a way to set the standard for all students to understand, value and practice affirmative consent at USC and elsewhere,” said Medsker.
Angie Stroud, Josh Code, and James Hofeling contributed to this article.