Activity: Academic Talks or Presentations › Oral presentation › Research
Research has highlighted rising rates of gender-based violence, sexual assaults and victimisation on University campuses, which makes consent and topics surrounding consent an important area of research. Research conducted by the National Union of Students (NUS) suggests that sexism and ‘lad culture’ remain pervasive on campuses and that more needs to be done to address issues surrounding gender-based violence. In 2014, the NUS initiated a campaign called ‘I Heart Consent’, which aimed to raise awareness of and challenge myths surrounding consent. Despite this, limited research focuses specifically on student’s perceptions of consent and why consent is often misunderstood. As a campus of Changemakers, the University of Northampton (UoN) wanted to start its own conversations about consent on campus. This led to a cross-disciplinary initiative by researchers from Law and Psychology and The University’s first ‘I Heart Consent’ week of action. This week aimed to raise awareness about consent at a local level and involved a range of interactive workshops, talks and events, as well as representation and involvement from local organisations, such as Rape Crisis and an LGBTQ group. This presentation will provide an overview of the challenges in developing a cross-discipline University-wide initiative such as this, while outlining the events which took place during this week of action. During this week, feedback was collected from UoN staff and students who attended these events, which was used by the organisers to inform future initiatives. In addition to this, students were also surveyed about their understanding of issues around sexual consent, as well as their knowledge of gender-based violence and support services. This research was conducted by the organisers of the week of action with a view to provide recent research around this important topic, while identifying the perceptions, attitudes and knowledge of current students on campus about consent-related issues. This presentation will provide an overview of feedback from attendees, alongside preliminary findings from this related research. A focus will be on the direct and practical applications of this work for local policy and practice, as well as for how it might inform new and existing campaigns. Wider implications will also be covered, including how this work is being used to inform systems within Higher Education which provide support for students disclosing incidents of sexual violence and sexism.