Trigger Warning: Talks about sexual assault, sexual misconduct and rape
The Student’s Union has been hosting a range of different Zoom activities, from debates to panels to workshops. I decided to attend the Consent Workshop, run by our Societies and Services Officer, Georgia-Rose, and our Welfare Officer, Liza Leibowitz.
The workshop was held over Zoom and covered a variety of themes. Georgia-Rose and Liza ensured that they were creating a safe space by making sure all attendees knew that they could leave the Zoom at any time or could be discreetly moved into a breakout room to take five minutes out if the information was overwhelming to anyone. They also made sure that numerous trigger warnings were given due to the sensitivity of the workshop.
Georgia-Rose and Liza started the beginning of the workshop by explaining what consent is, with a video about how ‘consent is like tea.’ This was a good comparison because it showed clearly what consent is and how to recognise when someone is unable or unwilling to give consent. The two also mentioned how the current COVID-19 Pandemic is leading to a rise in sexual misconduct and assault, since more people are likely to host and attend house parties where sexual misconduct is more prevalent.
The workshop included some interactivity, with anonymous quizzes using ‘Menti’ that everyone was able to take part in through using our phones/laptops. There was also a period for any questions if people felt confused at the end of the workshop, which was also able to be anonymous since we could message either of the hosts directly on Zoom.
As a group, we considered how our society might be impacting and contributing to rape culture, alongside considering the idea of the ‘grey area’ of sex, reinforcing that you must frequently check in on your partner/s to ensure they are still consenting. We then also delved into themes of sexual manipulation and thought about what is and is not consensual, for example taking off a condom without telling the other person, and debating the possibility of giving consent if one or all parties is under any influence that lowers their ability to confidently consent. At the end of the session both hosts offered information on where to find support and gave advice on what to do if you know of any incidents that you want to report to the university.
Here is what Georgia-Rose had to say about the workshop:
‘Going through university myself, I realised the extent of which sexual assault and sexual harassment happens in everyday life, with people not realising the severity of their actions or the implications it can have on someone’s mental health for the rest of their life. It has been an eye-opening experience for me, watching how inappropriate behaviour has become the ‘norm’ in certain situations as our society is increasingly developing a rape culture. As a result of this, I put on my manifesto that I wanted to introduce Consent Training and Consent Resources to students during Freshers, as I believe in order to tackle the problems we as a university community are facing, educating people what is acceptable and what isn’t, as opposed to teaching girls what to do when they get attacked, is a proactive and beneficial way to reduce the amount of sexual misconduct cases that occur.
Establishing A Guide to Consent is an easy and accessible way for students, staff members and the public to gain a clear understanding into what sexual consent encompasses. It also signposts students and staff to services in and around Swansea, easing the process of getting help if needed, there are many misconceptions around consent within the university community, and I believe raising awareness, breaking the taboo around sexual consent and educating students is a step in the right direction.
In addition to this, our Welfare Officer Liza Leibowitz and I successfully hosted Consent Workshops to Sports Teams and Societies in September, we then decided to hold monthly consent training sessions over Zoom to all students in order to widen the audience. I hope that we can make Consent Training mandatory to all students upon arrival at Swansea University, to help tackle the rising cases of sexual misconduct. If you wish to attend please email Georgia-Rose to book your place.’