Sexual Consent Week kicks off Tues.

WSAC presents discussions this week concerning issues of sexual consent.

Colette Bell

 

The Women’s Student Activist Collective will kick off Consent Week — a series of events to inform the campus community of sexual consent — with an informal sex health talk Tuesday.

Sexual consent happens when both partners involved in any sexual act agree freely and willingly to whatever is occurring. Without the agreement of both partners, it is considered a forcible sexual offense, including assault and/or rape.

Often assumptions, drugs or alcohol can blur the lines of consent.

WSAC will provide opportunities throughout the week to discuss questions and problems that might arise around the topic.

“I anticipate a lot of good discussions because consent can mean different things to different people, and that’s where issues can arise,” said Michelle Spivey, a religious studies junior and WSAC member.

Forcible sex is a pressing issue on most college campuses. The University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus reported 2.2 percent of men and 5.2 percent of women — or approximately 500 men and 1,300 women —experienced sexual contact against their will within a single year, according to a 2004 Boynton Health Service survey. Current data could not be found because this question is no longer included in the survey.

Twenty-four forcible sex offenses were reported in 2010, up from 15 in 2008 and 22 in 2009, according to the University’s 2011 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

“Consent week for me is getting everyone to understand that everyone has a voice,” said Carla Wilson, a cultural studies and comparative literature junior. “Everyone should have a say in what they go through or what they participate in.”

This is the first Consent Week that WSAC has put together. In recent years, it’s been a topic for discussion for the group. After the cancellation of a sexual consent presenter earlier in the year, WSAC decided to make up for the mix-up and present an entire week on the issue.

After about four months of preparation, Ariana Lopez is expecting to be wowed. She said that it’s important to talk about consent.

“We never want to talk about it because it’s not easy,” the Chicano studies junior said.

The events are open to all students. Wednesday’s discussion at Coffman Union, “Coercion or Consent,” will include input from an Aurora Center representative, while Friday’s discussion in the Whole Music Club will be led by WSAC members.

“Even if you think you know all there is to know about consent, you can still come because you might be able to add to the conversation,” Spivey said.