This article discusses sexual harassment and assault and may be triggering for some readers. The Journal uses “survivor” to refer to those who have experienced sexual assault. We acknowledge this term is not universal. The Kingston Sexual Assault Centre’s 24-hour crisis and support phone line can be reached at 613-544-6424 / 1-800-544-6424.
Consent Awareness Week includes workshops and booths across campus this week.
Consent Awareness Week was a cross-campus initiative guided by the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Services (SVPRS) office starting on Sept. 18. The goal was to raise awareness for the sexual violence prevention and support services offered on campus, while educating students about consent.
“We’re essentially hoping to raise awareness about consent and healthy relationship building,” AMS Social Issues Commissioner (External) Khadija Farooq, HealthSci ’24, said in an interview with The Journal.
The third week of the fall semester is within the ‘red zone,’ a time when there is a significant increase in sexual violence on campuses. The red zone falls during the first eight weeks of the school year, according to Farooq.
Workshops run by Four Directions, the Human Rights and Equity Office, and Student Wellness Services (SWS) included topics such as bystander intervention and sharing circles. The AMS Social Issues Commission ran booths and a crafting and jeopardy night on Friday.
Universities across Canada are participating in Consent Awareness Week, as part of a nationwide effort organized by Possibility Seeds, a social change consultancy.
A reporter from The Journal attended the Building a Consent Culture workshop, led by Queen’s Human Rights and Equity Office student employees. The workshop focused on taking “no” as an answer, and linked consent to the ongoing colonialization of Canada, acknowledgingits link to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
This year the SVPR office established an ad hoc working group to guide clubs and offices across campus. The group focuses on making contributions to Consent Awareness Week to unify the overall messaging.
The goal of this year’s Consent Week at Queen’s was to advertise the resources available on campus for survivors of sexual violence while increasing student engagement.
“The idea is to bring as many people into the conversation as possible and to really create awareness of what is consent,” SVPR Community Outreach and Student Support Worker Rebecca Rappeport said in an interview with The Journal.
The SVPRS office offers non-emergency supports for students who have experienced sexual violence on campus, including one-on-one conversations to help survivors navigate life after experiencing sexual violence.
Rappeport knows awareness related to consent is important, but bigger conversations are needed to create change in the Queen’s community.
“We’re not just talking about consent, but a lot of the focus has been encouraging people to look at the flip side of consent, of how to accept rejection, and all the different ways it can play out,” Rappeport said.
When interviewed by The Journal, students who were aware of Consent Awareness Week reported finding out through social media or on-campus signs. The events were advertised at Saturday’s football game and throughout the week at in-person booths.
“I saw a lot of promotion on Instagram and I think some signs as well,” Ashley Groff, ArtSci ’25, said in an interview with The Journal.
Other students reported being confident in their understanding of consent.
“I feel like I already have a good understanding of what consent means,” Luka Mileta-Clancy, Sci ’23 said in an interview to The Journal. “If they want more of a turnout, they probably should advertise more.”
Consent Awareness Week emerged from the 2018 Courage to Act report, a national collaboration studying the realities of sexual violence and gender-based violence in post-secondary institutions across Canada.
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