This fall, all students at the University of Montana will continue to be required to take, and pass, a test to raise their awareness of sexual assault.

The test, known by the acronym PETSA, stands for Personal Empowerment Through Self Awareness, and was created in response to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division into sexual assaults on campus and in the community.

Vice President for Integrated Communications at UM, Peggy Kuhr, said nearly 20,000 students have successfully taken and passed the test since it was initiated in 2012.

"One thing that we will be focusing on right away when all our new students get here is the tutorial called PETSA," Kuhr said. "It's an online tutorial about sexual assault and the law that every student must pass with a perfect score to enroll in the next semester's classes. There is a whole video about consent, and we'll be making some adjustments to that tutorial, including adding names of new staff members and other fine tuning matters."

Kuhr said the success of the tutorial and other awareness-raising efforts on campus have not necessarily reduced the overall incidence of sexual assaults.

"We believe we are a better and safer campus now," Kuhr said. "One of the things we want to see happen that may seem counter intuitive  is that reports of sexual assault on campus and the surrounding neighborhoods may actually increase in the short term, which means that people may be more comfortable in reporting it. We hear that the campus is safer, we hear that they're more comfortable reporting. We have a group of people that meet on a regular basis to go over various numbers to give us a broader view and let us know how we can improve."

Kuhr also said all students and staff receive updates on overall campus safety.

"By safety, we mean everything from making sure you don't leave your door unlocked in your dorm room, to locking the doors in your car," she said. "It's the whole package."

VP for Integrated Communications Peggy Kuhr

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