Letters from the Editor: The right to privacy

Kyrie Long Photo credit: Ellamarie Quimby

I did the Haven/AlcoholEdu training course last week, which took about two hours and left me significantly drained. Upon reflecting on this course, I’m not just tired, I’m angry.

Our university is in serious trouble for the administrative mishandling of Title IX cases. The federal resolution signed by UA System President Jim Johnsen is supposed to hold our administrators responsible for creating and maintaining a system that better serves the students. This is where my issue with the mandatory Haven/AlcoholEdu training begins.

As I progressed through the course, it became abundantly clear to me that this training was about personal responsibility and not falling into a position of bystander apathy. In and of itself, these are great messages to take away, but there were more insidious parts of this training that I found absolutely, inexcusably invasive.

What sort of training initiative asks people to disclose whether or not they have been sexually assaulted? Even though students are given the option to decline to answer, if someone were giving this training in person, that question would be considered unacceptable. Is it for some reason more appropriate to be asking people through an online training system? Further, the same course asks students if their friends or people they know have been assaulted.

This whole course feels like it’s been set up as admonishment for people who have violated laws about sexual discrimination and alcohol consumption, except instead of punishing offenders it apparently wants to gather information from victims. I fail to see the point of attempting to collect this information from people, even if it is only for statistical purposes—especially considering students are required to submit their training anyways.

Furthermore, why is it the responsibility of incoming students and all student employees to take this training, seemingly as result of the broken system practices of the Title IX Office? The students did not bungle the management of Title IX cases: administrative officials did. I understand mandatory training for the officials in charge of the process which handles Title IX complaints, but it makes little sense to me to place that responsibility on students who had nothing to do with the university’s federal violations.

I have one employee who has taken this training for the third time now, simply because she switched job positions. I have another who is taking it for the second time this year. The only reason they did not simply neglect to do the course multiple times was to avoid having their student account put on hold, having their payroll halted until they go through the training again.

Hoisting responsibility onto the students the system has failed and then threatening to hold their accounts hostage until they complete this training is a ridiculous way to make sure students understand consent and safe drinking practices. If this is an attempt to make progress with the student body, this is not the right way to go about it.

All that I’ve gained from this training is the disappointing feeling that my private history has been prodded at and scrutinized by an entity designed to educate people on basic respectfulness. In my opinion it’s a little hypocritical to force students through uncomfortable surveys and intrusive questionnaires, then tell them it’s wrong to disrespect people’s personal boundaries.

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