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Langara Holds Workshop to Explain Sexual Consent to Students

Students are struggling with defining sexual consent, says student conduct officer

Caroline Zhang, a Sexual Respect Ambassador at Langara, with posters defining consent. Photo by Cloe Logan
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Reported by Cloe Logan

Langara’s student conduct and judicial affairs department found that students are struggling with defining sexual consent.

Last Monday, the department quizzed students on defining sexual consent on campus. Jennifer Cheddie, a student conduct officer, said she was surprised at how many students answered questions incorrectly.

“One of the questions was, ‘Is someone who is intoxicated able to give consent?’” Cheddie said. “Another one was ‘Can consent can be assumed from previous consent?’”

Cheddie said students answered these questions as true when the correct answers are false.

“There’s a huge disconnect here,” Cheddie said. “Clearly there needs to be some education.”

Consent confusion on campus

On March 16, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund will be hosting Only Yes Means Yes on campus, a free workshop for students explaining legal and ethical definitions of sexual assault and consent.

Alana Prochuk, a manager at the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, said some students are confused about what sexual consent means because they lack positive role models and don’t know how to approach the topic.

“I think people feel discomfort about having those types of conversations, so it’s really great to practice the language for checking-in about consent,” Prochuk said.

Young adults are more likely to be victims of sexual violence

According to Statistics Canada, people aged 15-24 are more likely to be victims of sexual violence.

“It’s an environment where people are navigating relationships, sexuality and these types of conversations. It’s so important to engage students in conversations about how to build a campus culture where culture violence and consent are really challenged,” Prochuck said.

Phoebe Turner, a general arts student at Langara, said there are a number of problems at the root of why students are struggling with defining sexual consent.

“So much of it is the cultural climate we grew up in,” Turner said. “Historically, we’ve painted a portrait of all sexual predators as bad guys hanging out in bushes, waiting to jump out and attack. What I think people need to realize is that sexual violence is far more insidious and pervasive than that. It can be your friend, your romantic partner, a respected community leader.”

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