OPINION: Consent Week coming to UMD

BY CARLY MADDEN | Guest Contributor Consent Week, put together by MPIRG and WRAC, is coming to UMD the week of Nov. 16. The purpose of this week is to help spread awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault, how to help prevent it from happening and to remind people of the importance and absolute necessity of receiving consent.

This year, there is also an emphasis on the University of Minnesota’s new policy regarding the requirement for students to obtain affirmative consent. This is sometimes referred to as the “yes means yes” rule, as opposed to the gray “no means no” which disregards the fact that there are also non-verbal ways to say no to sex.

We all know by now that one cannot consent to sex when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, yet it continues to happen. On average, at least 50 percent of college student sexual assaults involve the use of alcohol. On Monday, Nov. 16 at 4 p.m.  in the Garden Room, Men as Peacemakers are putting on the Best Party Model workshop. Its purpose is to teach college students how they can create a fun, safe and respectful party environment in order to help prevent sexual assault.

It is important for students to know how they can help out if they notice a potentially unsafe situation. There are plenty of reasons people may feel like they shouldn’t intervene, one being that they do not know how to. On Tuesday, Nov. 17 from 4-6 p.m. in KSC 268, the Peer Health Educators are putting on a Got Your Back! bystander intervention workshop to encourage students to safely and effectively intervene in harmful situations.

Whether you’re seeing it or not, sexual assault is happening. An estimated one in five women in college are assaulted but few of them report their assault and even fewer perpetrators will face punishment. The statistics are staggering and many people choose to ignore or attempt to invalidate them. On Nov. 18 in Chem 200 at 6 p.m., UMD will host a screening and discussion of the documentary “The Hunting Grounds,” an exposé of rape crimes on U.S. college campuses and the effects they have on students and their friends and families.

Another topic that is not often talked about is BDSM (Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM) and kink. Last spring at UMD, around the time that “50 Shades of Grey” hit theaters, students Lee Hansen and Meg Poettgen gave a presentation on the topic. It’s a good one to attend if you are interested at all in learning about how to ensure a safe and fun experience through communication. There was a small turnout in February and Hansen is hoping for more people to show up to the next presentation on Thursday, Nov. 19 in the Garden Room from 4-5:30 p.m.

If you're interested in learning anything else about Consent Week or the topics it covers, be sure to stop by the tabling area in the Kirby Commons Nov. 16-20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Swing through and pick up a “Got Consent?” T-shirt. Join in on the nationwide discussion of sexual assault on college campuses. Spread awareness. Always be sure to get affirmative (“yes means yes”) consent before engaging in any sexual act. Be safe and have fun.

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