Students forced to do sex test for exam results
STUDENTS at a Sydney university are being forced to complete an online consent and sexual behaviour course or have their exam results withheld.
The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is one of the Australian universities that adopted a mandatory online module explaining sex and consent earlier this year.
The four modules, as seen by news.com.au, which must be completed by staff and students by November 23 was designed by UK-based course developer Epigeum and includes a series of quizzes exploring what constitutes appropriate sexual conduct.
Each module uses a series of videos, stick figure cartoons and infographics to explain different aspects of sexual consent, including appropriate and inappropriate means of consent - from whether the involved party is able to consent if they've had a lot to drink, the age of sexual consent in each Australian state, and the difference between "active" and "passive" bystanders.
Students must get 100 per cent in the hour-long test to complete the module and receive their marks for the semester.
A UTS spokeswoman told news.com.au that the uni was able to make the completion of Consent Matters mandatory.
"When students join any university in Australia, they agree to comply with all rules set by the university, and in this regard UTS is no different," the spokeswoman said.
She said it has openly and transparently communicated its expectations regarding Consent Matters completion over the past six months.
According to UTS' website, those who don't have to sit the online course are students who have experienced trauma.
"Naturally, the university does not intend to retraumatise those who have previously experienced sexual assault, and alternative arrangements can be made in these circumstances," the spokeswoman said.
"Other categories of exemptions include, for example, cross-institutional students whose primarily affiliation is with another institution."
When Sydney University rolled out the same course to its students earlier this year, it got slammed by End Rape On Campus Australia ambassador Nina Funnell.
"When the online "Consent Matters" course was first trialled last year, students blasted it by pointing out that respondents didn't even need to tick an answer, let alone the right answer, to pass through it," Ms Funnell said in a piece for news.com.au
"There is also very little evidence to suggest that an online module will be effective in shifting attitudes or behaviours."
She said that teachers, academics and sexual assault experts described it as "tokenistic", suggesting it "won't produce any meaningful change".
But according to the UTS spokeswoman, more than 84 per cent of its students who have already completed the course rated its quality as "Good" or "Very Good".
"Feedback from various studies, including our own, tells us that students want more information about what constitutes appropriate sexual behaviour - this naturally leads to a conversation about what consent is," the spokeswoman said.
In July, Daily Telegraph chief of staff Yoni Bashan - who signed up to a university course last year - also slammed the module and compared it to an RTA driving course-style exam.
"This bloated series of 'modules' and '101s' and condescending quizzes, all styled like an RTA driving exam, are so horrible and irritating that I suspect the purpose is to actually cock-block participants from ever having sex with each other," he said in an opinion piece for The Sunday Telegraph.
According to UTS, the course has gone through a rigorous process before being released to students.
It is divided into four key sections, including "Thinking about consent", "Communication skills and relationships", "Looking out for others" and "Support".
"Epigeum, part of Oxford University Press, collaborated with more than 20 advisory panel members and reviewers, including experts on law, psychology, gender studies, student unions and support services from the UK and Australia, as well as a team of students who gave feedback throughout the course's development," the spokeswoman told news.com.au.
"The University of Newcastle, Australia was a member of the advisory group and helped ensure the course was suitable for Australian students. Charles Sturt University provided review input as part of the process."
Students seeking to complete the module have to get 100 per cent on every test in order to pass. Some of the questions require specific answers; if you're instructed to select "multiple" correct answers for a question, and you miss one, you might end up with a 4.67 out of 5 - a fail mark.
Those who complete Consent Matters training after the results release date will need to wait 72 hours for their Spring results to appear.
How tough are the quizzes? Here's some examples: