Eau Claire (WQOW) -- In an effort to curb sexual assault on campus, students at UW-Eau Claire are getting an important lesson in campus safety.
For the first time at UW-Eau Claire, incoming freshmen have to complete an online course educating them about things like sexual assault, dating violence, stalking and sexual harassment. They have until November to finish the training, which is considered the end of the "Red Zone," a period of time health experts said new students, especially women, are more vulnerable to sexual violence.
"We believe it's a very important first step for students to be educated about what sexual assault is," UWEC Dean of Students Joseph Abhold told News 18.
Abhold said the course has been available to Blugolds for the past two years, but this year, it's required for freshmen. They hope by making it mandatory, they can help make campus a safer place.
"We want to create a campus culture that's caring and supportive, and we think education is a great place to start with that," Abhold said. He also said these important lessons aren't just staying in Eau Claire.
"This is something that's happening on a statewide basis, in the UW System schools," Abhold told News 18. "All the schools worked together to put together this contract with this provider of the online training, and so all of the schools in the UW-system are initiating this same training program."
UWEC freshman Luke Halvorsen said he appreciated the program's frank conversation about consent.
"I think sexual assault shouldn't be a thing at all. If we all just be good people, we could just eliminate it totally," he said.
Bridget Patri thought the real life examples included in the course really drove the lessons home.
"They did like a true story on there, and I was really interested in that," she told News 18. "It was just like a guy that didn't quite know that he was actually hurting people, but it was really cool that they did something like that because it is a common thing that most people don't know about."
Others told News 18 they hope the new requirement will stick around for years to come.
"I'm glad that our class got to start it, and I definitely think they should continue on," freshman Olivia Misorski said and Hannah Javoroski agreed.
Abhold said, so far, 65 percent of incoming freshmen have completed the course. He said that's significantly higher than in the past when students simply elected to take it. Though, he wanted to remind upperclassmen that the training is still available to everyone on campus.