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Creating a Culture of Consent on Campus

Posted on Tuesday, December 1, 2020

College, whether it be a four-year institution or a community college, is an integral time for personal growth. While young adults gain a larger sense of autonomy, they are also learning to navigate new worlds, one being sexuality. Unfortunately, college campuses across the globe are common places for various forms of sexual violence and is often left unreported.

The Office on Women’s Health reports that a student is “at the highest risk of sexual assault in the first few months of their first and second semesters in college.” Vulnerable communities, particularly LGBTQ+ women, are more likely to experience sexual violence college campuses.

These statistics and realities are overwhelming and heartbreaking, nonetheless. It is important college campuses encourage students to create a culture of consent in order to prevent sexual violence and support survivors.

1. What is and what isn’t consent?

Oxford Languages defines consent as the “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.” In this case, consent is giving permission to or agreeing to perform sexual acts. The easiest way to communicate consent is to engage in discourse with your partner, whether it be talking about sex, asking questions and considering body language. Communicating consent includes addressing what you are willing and open to doing while identifying boundaries.Considerations for consent:
The absence of “no” does not equate to saying “yes.”
You can always withdraw consent.
An individual cannot give consent when under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Peer pressure is not consent.
No means no, even if you consistently ask.

2. Normalize consent – communication is key to a healthy sexual life.

Consent is often looked upon, thus creating a culture of silence. This behavior reinforces violent and dangerous behaviors, which are harmful to both parties involved. Engage in meaningful discussion regarding sex with friends and significant others. Revisit boundaries and what each party is comfortable doing.

3. Understand the basis of consent and apply it as a bystander.

Bystanders play an important role in identifying sexual violence. Be aware of surroundings – if a friend or someone around you seems “off” based on their character and/or behavior, apply the four steps of C.A.R.E. to protect the individual at risk.

4. It is never your fault.

Regardless of what happened at the time of the incident, what you wore or how you had consumed, it is never your fault. No one has the authority to violate your trust through conduct without your verbal and conscious consent. It is important communities cultivate an environment believing survivors of sexual violence.

There surely is no definite guide to prevent or eliminate sexual violence. It is important for communities to define consent in order to create a healthy sex culture on campus. Enhancing an individual’s awareness of on-campus safety is a crucial step in eliminating sexual violence on campus.

Nevada ASUN and Nevada Cares hope to foster a safe environment for survivors of gender-based violence. Although it is not an exhaustive list, both of the organizations compiled a list of local and national resources to further assist survivors through recovery.

Local Resources:

Northern Nevada –
Crisis Support Services of Nevada: 775-784-8090 (Hotline)
Safe Embrace: 775-322-3466 (Hotline)
Tu Casa Latina

Las Vegas –
The Shade Tree of Las Vegas
S.A.F.E. HouseInterfaith Hospitality Network: 702-638-8806 (Hotline)

National Resources:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
The National Network to Eliminate Domestic Violence
RAINN: Rape Abuse Incest National Network
Stalking Resource Center