Editor’s note: This column discusses topics related to alcoholism and sexual assault and may be upsetting to some readers.
Before I started writing this article, I turned to the rest of the newsroom and asked them if Kansas State was still requiring all students to complete the same Alcohol and Sexual Assault Prevention course they’ve had for several years.
Unfortunately, the answer was yes.
I’ve been procrastinating on completing my ASAP training before the fall semester starts. I do it every year despite the fact that I consider the topics of alcoholism and sexual assault to be gravely serious concerns.
Some of my most liberal, justice-loving female colleagues said they clicked through it just to get it over with. I’m planning on doing the same — maybe I’ll set a new world record for “speedrunning” the ASAP course.
Call me cynical, but I think there’s something very, very wrong with the way K-State handles its ASAP training if the students who should love it the most are desperate for it to be over before it even starts.
For readers who are not aware, the ASAP program is an online learning course where students answer questions and watch videos relating to alcohol consumption and sexual assault. Completion of the program is required for every enrolled student before the beginning of the academic year.
More than anything, the problems with ASAP come from bad execution.
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The questions are leading. The videos are condescending. Worst of all, the program has had no major changes in the past several years, meaning this will be my fourth time clicking the exact same mind-numbing buttons for 30 minutes since 2015.
Some of ASAP’s other problems are more subtle, and perhaps rooted in human psychology.
Due to its tone-deaf, lighthearted presentation and its annual resurgence in the minds of students who thought they had already taken care of it, ASAP has become a joke. What’s insidious about its failure is that this has also turned the topics ASAP discusses into jokes as well.
There’s a particularly childish segment of the ASAP program where a woman asks for strangers’ cell phones and gets rejected to demonstrate the concept of consent. It’s indicative of all the problems ASAP has as a whole.
The consent skit is downright insulting to actual human beings who have had their consent disregarded and their personal space violated. Having those barriers violently torn down by a perpetrator who barely sees you as human can traumatize even the strongest people. Consent is not something that should be explained with a comedy skit unless you’re talking to a kindergartener.
What makes matters worse is what this tonal whiplash has done to the students who have to take ASAP training.
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When I hear someone ask to borrow their friend’s phone, all too often I hear the friend say with a laugh, “Whoa, do you have my consent?”
Consent, personal liberty and human decency are now jokes. They’re sly little references to that annoying thing K-State keeps making us do every year, not fundamental rules of our lives that break a person’s well-being in their absence.
This begs an obvious question. Why does K-State still bother with a mandatory program that is so obviously flawed on every level?
I suppose it’s easier than tackling the actual issues at hand: the poor sexual education in our state, the unhealthy fascination with binge drinking among young people due to a high legal age limit, the destructive traditions surrounding male sexuality and empowerment. You get the picture.
Ideally, K-State wouldn’t even need an ASAP program because every student has been taught from birth to understand consent, limits and healthy relationships. That’d be perfect.
But in our imperfect world, maybe K-State should just start with taking this subject matter seriously.
Oh well, I suppose they’re still busy trying to distance themselves from fraternities to avoid being responsible for off-campus sexual assault and alcohol poisoning. Priorities, right?
Kyle Hampel is the opinion editor for the Collegian and a senior in English. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to email@example.com.