LSESU Consent Workshop Coincides with Viral #MeToo Campaign

LSESU workshops on Consent began last week. ‘Consent Matters: Boundaries, Respect and Positive Intervention’ – an interactive online course followed by a workshop – is open to every LSE student.  The workshops focus on the complex issue of consent and enable students to deal with real life situations.

The idea of mandatory consent workshops was introduced last year by a campaign run by the Women’s Officer and was supported by students and staff.  After being approved by the Student Union the workshops became a reality last week. This decision puts LSE on par with many other universities in the UK – such as Oxford, York, and Cambridge – that have been introducing sexual consent classes during the past few years.

Natasha Davies, the LSESU’s women’s officer for this academic year, told The Beaver that “Even if not everyone comes to a consent workshop, I hope that what we are doing this year at LSE starts a conversation on campus and makes clear that LSE and the SU will not tolerate sexual harassment or abuse.”

Even though it was not possible to make it mandatory for all first-year undergraduates – as the motion called for – the workshop is still mandatory for every committee member of LSE societies, clubs, or halls.

In 2010, the NUS report ‘Hidden Marks’ highlighted the issues regarding violence on campuses: 68% of students have experienced verbal or physical sexual harassment. A more recent six-month long Guardian investigation found out that the level of harassment has become “epidemic” in British universities.

Consent – as has been highlighted during the course of the workshop – is an ongoing conversation. Consent has been attacked by many as a “patronising” lesson on how to say yes or no.  It is hoped that a class that goes beyond mere academic talk and delves into pragmatic real-life situations – debunking common myths surrounding consent – will counter this sentiment.

The launch of these workshops ahead of LSESU’s Consent Week also coincides with the viral #metoo campaign. This campaign has seen thousands of people share their experiences regarding sexual harassment on social media. The campaign started in light of the serious allegations of sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein. The aim was to show how widespread sexually inappropriate and abusive behaviour is at every level of society.

“I feel so many women downplay their own experiences and therefore delegitimise their own feelings because they know these things happen frequently” says Natasha. “However, just because these things happen so regularly to so many people doesn’t mean it’s not sexual assault.” She concludes that: “If people take away only one thing from the consent workshops, I hope it is the proper definition of sexual assault”.


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