First-year students living in Concordia’s residences are getting a crash course in consent, thanks to a mandatory new program aimed at stopping sexual assaults before they happen.
The classes will be taught by staff from the university’s Sexual Assault Centre and coordinator Jennifer Drummond said they won’t just be for students, but for faculty and residence assistants.
“One of my hopes is that these students will not commit sexual violence, they will prevent sexual violence from happening in their community, to their friends, to their peers,” she said.
The goal is to familiarize those in the classes with what is acceptable and what is not.
“We don’t tolerate sexual harassment, we don’t talk about women in such-and-such a way, it’s not okay. (We want) that to become the norm and the standard.”
While this is the first year the course is compulsory for those living in residences, the Sexual Assault Centre launched a similar program for the school’s athletes three years ago. Third year philosophy student Stefan Brady has attended those and, while often uncomfortable, he said they address important issues.
“Definitely, at night, going to bars, it’s all too common to see guys not acting the way they should be,” he said. “Either they’re too intoxicated, or just too aggressive. It can be a hard thing to confront and deal with.”
Among the techniques are used are ice breakers and games that teach proper communication, said lead facilitator Shayna Hadley, adding that often boundaries get crossed because people feel awkward reinforcing them.
“We do an exercise that Jennifer found online called the handshake exercise, where you’re negotiating different levels of consent,” she said.
Brady said the classes have made a difference in how he interacts with real-world situations.
“At a bar, when one of my friends was being sexually harassed, (we went) to talk to a bouncer, getting an authority figure involved, doing something to prevent it,” he said.