How To Define Sexual Consent: With A Mandatory Quiz?

With the launch of UCDSU's campaign on consent, Megan Hickey asks if all Universities should require students to take a 'consent quiz'.[br]The University of Bristol recently introduced a mandatory quiz on sexual consent for their incoming undergraduate students this year. Implemented by the Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS), the quiz was given to students to help them understand how important consent is due to the realisation that many young people do not understand consent or realise how essential consent is.The quiz itself is made up of five questions, dealing with different situations that centre on consent. The student answering must decide whether or not these situations are consensual. The quiz gives students realistic circumstances with both consensual and non-consensual situations described.This quiz’s main objective is not to shame sex, instead its focus is to create open discussions of consent with friends and partners. Lisa Benjamin, a volunteer and training officer at SARSAS, wants this quiz to rid people of the misconception that ‘the absence of no means yes’. As well as the quiz, SARSAS has trained 180 student volunteers who will run workshops on consent for fellow students in their halls for the next three weeks. The University of Bristol are tackling the problem of sexual assault with a forward thinking idea. Not only will the quiz help clarify consent, but the workshops will create a comfortable environment for students to talk openly about consent. This quiz will get students thinking about consent and hopefully lower sexual assault incidents on campus as students will have a clearer understanding of consent.
With consent being a seemingly universally ambiguous term, should universities all over the world introduce a quiz like that of Bristol’s?
In the past few weeks the issue of consent has been a major topic in the Irish media. This is in part due to the recent publication of Irish author, Louise O’Neill’s, novel ‘Asking For It’. This novel focuses on the rape of a teenage girl in her small Irish town and in particular focusses on relevant issues such as consent and victim blaming. O’Neill also appeared on The Late Late show to speak about the problems in her novel and how they are reflected throughout our society, highlighting the need to educate young people on sex, relationships and the understanding of personal boundaries.As well as The Late Late Show, consent was discussed on RTE’s Claire Byrne Live. The ambiguity behind the meaning of the word consent was the main interest. This episode discussed whether or not there is a need for the Irish government to officially define the meaning of consent, and if it was to be officially defined, would that help to reduce the number of sexual assault cases. The quiz by the University of Bristol and SARSAS also tried to define this term, demonstrating that the meaning of the word consent is an issue to be found across all generations, young and old.With consent being a seemingly universally ambiguous term, should universities all over the world introduce a quiz like that of Bristol’s? Awareness on this matter is not an issue specific to The University of Bristol, but is needed in Ireland too. The focus on consent in the media shows that this is a relevant issue for students at college. A 2013 report entitled ‘Say Something’, published by the Union of Students in Ireland revealed that 16 per cent of students said they had experienced unwanted sexual harassment in college. With such a large number of students affected, it is imperative that UCD tackle this problem head on. The example of the University of Bristol demonstrates how a university can take a progressive and inclusive step into educating students about consent and boundaries.UCD Students' Union has created a new sexual consent campaign named ‘Not Asking For It’. This campaign contains three parts. Firstly, victims of sexual assault are invited to talk about their stories in a safe and understanding place. The stories of these victims will be anonymously printed onto posters and placed around the UCD campus. Then a survey will take place in semester 2. This survey will try and find out how many UCD students have been victims of sexual assault. This campaign is focused on the survivors of sexual assault who will get the opportunity to tell their stories in an understanding environment. The campaign began on October 8th and was launched by Louise O’Neill.The aim of the campaign is to get the issue of consent into people’s minds The presence of Louise O’Neill in this campaign will help give it a larger platform which will create a larger audience. The use of the sexual assault stories as posters will place the issue of consent all over the UCD campus and hopefully educate people about consensual an non-consensual sex. This campaign is a huge step forward for UCD as an Irish university and will hopefully be the start of well publicised college campaigns on sexual assault. While it is admirable to see that the UCDSU is addressing an issue that has previously been neglected, there is a still a lot of work to do on the matter.