By Katie McNamee
When it comes to consent, there’s a lot of grey area that makes it difficult to teach and so the main question becomes, can we actually teach it?
It’s a topic that has been heavily discussed in the media and society recently and this is due to its controversial nature. It is typically defined as “an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity”.
Consent can be communicated in a variety of ways such as a clear and loud statement that acknowledges your desire to have sex. It can also include an affirmative sentence that also points towards being open to sex.
Although physical cues can signify whether a person wants to engage in sex, students are being encouraged to communicate more effectively.
Initially DITSU looked into BDSM consent classes for ‘performing alternative sex acts’ but these did not go ahead. “The student movement is very liberal so it passed but when we looked further into the motion that the organisation we were meant to work with didn’t provide the service”, said DITSU president Boni Odoemine.
“So we amended it and now we’re going to have consent classes.
“It was replaced with the motion for the Welfare Officer to have the consent classes for students” he told The Edition.
The first general consent class took place on Thursday February 15.
“The BDSM workshops didn’t make it as the motion at council has emerged as part of the current ‘consent’ debate; this has been amended by Student Council and now encompasses the concept in its broader terms so that it has relevance for all our members.
There were no qualified facilitators available to deliver such a workshop in DIT” said welfare officer, Roisin O’Donovan.
Not only do consent workshops offer the skills to ask but they also offer training in how to say no to unwanted touch or attention.
It is also important to note that consent is not just about responding but is also about asking and wanting to ask whether the other person enjoys it or not.
Despite the overall attitude that this is a positive step for DIT, there has also been questions surrounding whether college is too late a stage to start teaching students about consent.
A survey conducted in 2016 found that 40% of 17 to 18-years-olds have had oral sex, while 33% say they had sexual intercourse.
The data is part of the ‘Growing Up in Ireland’ survey from the the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
Males were more likely to report being sexually active than females (45% compared to 39%).
Some 56% who reported having had sexual intercourse also reported that they always used a condom, although a sizeable minority of 11% said they never used one.
So the argument persists, by the time young people reach college, is it too late?
Teaching consent seems easy and non-arguable yet there is such an absence of understanding in our culture. The first step we can take is talking about it.
In the past month, discussions about sexual assault have entered the news cycle. These conversations must be constant and reflect our experiences.