Consent workshops to be introduced for freshers next year
They’ll explore myths about rape, victim blaming and slut shaming
Women’s Officer Miriam Miller is planning to bring in consent workshops for freshers week next year.
The workshops will be built into the programme of week one in September and will be aimed specifically at new students to the uni, of all genders and sexualities.
They’ll aim to explore what consent looks like and its legal context, as well as how to step up to non-consensual behaviour and not engage in victim blaming.
Similar classes have been held in Oxford and Cambridge, aiming to reduce harassment and violence within uni, but there some students were forced to attend.
Miriam told The Tab: “None of the activities in intro week are mandatory but they are usually very well-attended, so I felt that this struck the right balance between maximizing attendance without making the workshops compulsory.”
She added: “I felt that making them compulsory went against what we were trying to achieve in terms of promoting the understanding of consent, and I am also aware that some students may wish to opt out of these workshops for personal reasons.”
A recent letter from government cabinet ministers urged Vice Chancellors to “consider introducing, updating and implementing a comprehensive range of policies to end violence against women and girls on campus.”
It detailed a growing body of evidence suggesting many young adults experience sexual and relationship violence at uni, with an NUS survey finding that one in seven female students have experienced serious physical or sexual assault during their time as a student.
The letter encourages uni’s to adopt a similar Intervention Initiative as launched by UWE last September, an educational programme empowering students to act as pro social citizens and reduce sexual coercion and abuse.
Mariam said: “There’s no specific incident that has led to the creation of these workshops and I do think Sheffield has recently demonstrated more of an awareness in the issues around consent, which is a great step forward.
“Many of our local venues, including the SU, have signed up to the Good Night Out pledge to prevent sexual harassment.
“We may consider expanding the sessions to more students in future if the ones we hold this year are successful.”
If you’d like to take part in Miriam’s pilot session on the 26th June you can sign up here.