Revealed: The universities offering consent workshops this Freshers’
Some are compulsory
There has been a terrifying increase in sexual assaults reported at universities in recent years. Contrary to what is normally taught to women, there is less danger of being assaulted by a stranger in the street than there is by a friend. After multiple allegations of rapes taking in place in student halls, there are increasing calls for more to be done to teach students the meaning of consent.
In order to quell consent diminishing aspects of uni life as ‘lad culture’ and sexism, consent workshops are taking place in many universities. They aim to teach the importance of respectful relationships, when consent has actually been given and the damaging effects on people’s lives when it hasn’t.
Nottingham, Bath and Oxford Brookes said they do not run anything compulsory for their students which addresses consent. Many universities are still yet to confirm to The Tab whether they offer any similar activities for their students. Detailed below are the universities that do.
Although the Students’ Union does not yet offer compulsory consent workshops, it is offering training to all Freshers’ Week reps in Active Bystander Intervention, and is also offering the training to Welfare Officers and other student leaders. Durham University has also hired a specific staff member for discipline and student support surrounding sexual violence and misconduct, who is currently working on developing training for both staff and students in order to create real cultural change.
After the positive influence of the society Sexpression, the University of Edinburgh Students’ Union has decided to create its own campaign to battle sexual harassment. They will work especially with the Sports’ Union, tackling consent issues within lad culture head on.
Their aim is to combat lad culture within sport societies, following allegations of jokes being made about rape. The union will no longer be tolerating such attitudes and encouragement of rape culture. They are now taking steps to actively fight against it.
The ‘It Stops Here’ campaign at King’s College is attended by over 1500 students, both male and female. The team is bringing together the entire community to raise awareness about what sexual harassment is, and its impacts, as well as providing support for victims, the campaign uses events workshops and training to put their pledge into action.
The campaign video is being included at every induction, with student talks and 21 events and workshops have been run. A motion has even been passed in KCLSU for consent workshops to be a part of the mandatory Presidents and Treasurers Training.
Hana Riazuddin, Student Diversity & Inclusion Officer, said, “We managed to deliver a handful of consent workshops but were working towards developing a more comprehensive, impactful workshop to support the campaign in a way that equipped students to challenge harassment.”
On the first day at university, all new students already receive a basic introduction to the issue of consent as part of their college welcome talk, which is then reinforced the following day with a specific session with an expert in consent training.
These events are compulsory components of Freshers’ Week and all new students must attend. As a new addition to the consent campaign, this year’s freshers will also receive a printed welfare guide containing information on consent and access to additional resources on the students’ union website.
However, they have also said, “We don’t believe it’s enough to talk about this issue only at the start of university, and we take a number of other steps to ensure that the message is heard year-round.”
After hosting Loughborough’s first ever Consent Week this year, the SU has recently appointed a consent workshop coordinator to devise and deliver workshops. They will work across university halls, clubs and societies, and to key student leaders from September, although the exact content of these sessions is still being finalised.
Information packs are to be made available to students both in halls and in town, and also members of the local community who would like to be involved. They said that the new coordinator, Gemma, “hopes the week will enjoy longevity and success for years to come.”
After a huge number of allegations against the university for not taking rape seriously, the union president was accused of rape, the OxStu published an offensive article, it was time for the union to do something.
Oxford University Students’ Union is continuing to run consent workshops as it has done for the last five years. Materials are provided, alongside training, for student facilitators who then hold consent workshops in their own individual colleges. The workshops are compulsory for all undergraduate freshers, with about two-thirds of graduate common rooms also running them.
OUSU’s consent workshop materials are being used as a basis for workshops in Argentinian secondary schools, proving their impact on the student community. Orla from OUSU added, “It’s so important that consent education happens early — we’re delighted to play a part in that.”
Royal Holloway is reportedly one of the pilot institutions for the NUS ‘I love consent’ campaigns and has been delivering the workshops to students in various clubs and societies.
Through a college and SU collaboration, staff awareness will be raised using a new welfare guide which was launched this year as well as empowering students to create a positive consent culture by taking part in advocating access to inclusive sex and relationship education in universities, colleges and in schools.
The ‘End It Now’ campaign at UWE focusses on sexual violence, domestic abuse and hate crime. Their aim is to make life safer for all students. On International Women’s Day 2015, Bristol Women’s Commission launched the Zero Tolerance initiative for Bristol to become a city with a zero tolerance approach to gender-based violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation. The Students’ Union signed this pledge and have since been working closely with Bristol Zero Tolerance.
The Students’ Union is proving to be passionate about supporting the Intervention Initiative, imbedding it into all programmes at the University and part of the induction process for all our students to undergo. The next academic year, the union will be working on a social norms marketing campaign, using data from the pilot of the Intervention Initiative. In addition, next year’s officers will have intense training to deliver the high quality sessions in the future.
A union representative said, “We have seen there has been a “backlash” from some students regarding “consent classes”, so we are working closely with our members and student leaders to ensure we create the right programme for UWE students.”
The women’s officers at the University of York will be delivering talks this autumn designed to build understanding of consent, to tackle myths and respond to growing demands from our students for clearer action on issues like sexual harassment and consent.
The union hopes to challenge stigma and help students to establish healthy relationships and clear boundaries in a positive and informative environment. The officers have been elected on a pledge to deliver consent talks and have been consulting with students and the University to develop them. The consent talks will form part of the health and safety talks that every new student attends at the start of term. They are gender-neutral and cover a range of issues including personal safety, alcohol and sexual health. This is not about demonising any particular group or individual, the focus is on highlighting support structures at the University and opening dialogue.