By Ben Kleppinger
Sexual harassment training is now required for all Eastern employees, including student workers. But Eastern is making it easier to take the training by offering it online.In a recent statement addressed to all Eastern faculty, staff and student workers, Eastern President Doug Whitlock said Eastern employees are now required to complete a sexual harassment training course, including a 15-question “mastery test,” and retake the training every two years.
“If you do these things in the traditional classroom setting, it is so difficult.for everyone to get away at the same time,” Whitlock said. “We think [the online training] will make it much more convenient and effective for our folks.”
The training is estimated to take 60 to 90 minutes to complete, including a quiz at the end which employees must score an 80 or higher on to pass. Supervisors must score an 86 or higher.
Jenny Allen, the associate director of the equal opportunity office at Eastern, said employees receive instant feedback on their answers so they know what they got right and what they got wrong.
If an employee fails the test, he or she can retake the test immediately without penalty, Allen said.
“We wanted something that was.more convenient for more people,” Allen said.
According to Whitlock’s statement, all current employees are required to complete the training by Oct. 31. All new employees will have 30 days to complete the training.
Allen said the new system allows Eastern to track which employees have completed the training and which ones have not.
Eastern has no official policy in place for dealing with employees who do not complete the training, but departmental supervisors will be informed of who has and has not completed the training, said Virginia Underwood, the chief of staff for Eastern’s equal opportunity office.
“We’re relying on the leadership to ensure their employees have participated,” Underwood said.
Underwood said student workers have been included in part because “everything about student employment at EKU is taking on an overall more professional approach.”
Student workers will also be prepared for sexual harassment training when they graduate and get jobs, Underwood said. “Part of your experience as a student worker is educational,” she said.
Allen said there are different training programs for different employees, but most of the content is the same for everyone.
For example, the student worker training includes a section on sexual assault that is not included in the other programs, she said.
Supervisors get a special section about how to deal with sexual harassment among the employees under their supervision.
Faculty receive training on how to help students who come to them with a sexual harassment complaint.
Underwood said faculty have a “unique role” when it comes to creating an environment free of sexual harassment. “They’re sort of our soldiers in the field,” she said.
Allen said as of Tuesday afternoon over 170 people had taken the training online.
Based on an evaluation that accompanies the training, the employee response has been largely positive, she said.
“They like that it’s private,” Allen said.
Underwood said for employees who prefer the classroom setting, real-life classes will still be offered. The classroom classes will be based off of the online training programs.
Allen said employees are required to take the training again every two years because laws can change, resulting in minor changes to or whole new areas of Eastern’s harassment policy.
“Not to mention sometimes they just forget,” she said. “If you don’t use it, you lose it.