Sexual assault prevention online program “Haven” may not be right for universities

WCU transfer student, Kelby Caballero, watches Haven introduction video. Photo by Meghan O'Sullivan.

WCU transfer student, watches Haven introduction video. Photo by Meghan O’Sullivan.

Since the Fall of 2014 WCU’s campus, along with over 350 other universities nationwide, first year and transfer students are required to complete Everfi’s online sexual assault program called “Haven.”

The program not only teaches students about sexual assault, but a big part of the program is also intervention and prevention, teaching students when and how to intervene if they were to see an assault on campus, and ways to prevent an assault from occurring.

According to their website, “Haven” focuses mainly on four areas, addressing the root causes of sexual assault, providing educational definitions, addressing issues of relationship violence, and empowering bystanders through interactive exercises with the students participating, asking questions such as “What would you do if you saw a student being taken advantage of?” and asking students if they themselves have ever been victims of sexual assault, abuse, or harassment. Haven’s website:

At WCU, first year students and transfer students have been required to take and complete the course, failure to complete the course will result in placing a Student Community Ethics hold on the students’ account. The students receive many notices prior to when the program is officially due to remind them to complete it.

Assistant director of Student Community Ethics, Bob Alston works hands on with the Haven program and is responsible for collecting and interpreting the data gathered through WCU students’ responses.

“I think that Haven teaches WCU students to pay attention to their own actions, the actions of others, and how to intervene when necessary,” said Alston in an email message.

Recently, the program has received controversy from students; during an event back on October 26, 2015, an event called “Sex and the Student Body” was hosted by WCU, controversy and concerns were brought up about “Haven” at the event, students believing the course might be too intense for other students who have been victims of sexual assault to have to complete when asking personal questions about their experiences.

WCU student Shadow Tilley believes that the program’s in depth questions are unnecessary for students to complete.

“If the survey asked about sexual violence a student has encountered while on campus, that would be different and could help the school, but not asking about past situations with sexual assault before attending a university, the universities don’t need that information and the student could feel violated, that their personal information has been intruded on.”

Student Terrell Kimber agrees with him.

“The program could be a possible trigger to bring back old trauma from past situations,” added Kimber.

Alston, hopes that if students feel this way, they will bring their concerns to the Student Community Ethics directly.

“Sexual violence is difficult to address, especially for student survivors, and I hope that students will access WCU resources if they are needed. I would encourage any student who has a concern about the Haven course to contact the Department of Student Community Ethics directly in order to provide us their feedback,” Alston said in an emailed statement.

An article by “The College Fix”, dealing with the statistics the program uses sparked another controversy ( The article states the program’s sources page does not correlate with each claim the program has made, making it hard to prove that Everfi has correctly displayed the sources’ information in their program.

The goal of the program is to help students better understand sexual assault, through knowledge and understanding, assault and other sexual violence crimes can be prevented.