Creating Conversations about Consent through an on-Campus, Curriculum Embedded Week of Action

Kimberley Hill, Melanie Crofts

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle

Abstract

Sexual violence is a widespread issue on university campuses. Although not a new concern, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) within the United Kingdom (UK) have only recently begun to implement specific on-campus prevention strategies. Many approaches focus on increasing knowledge of consent and related harms, but are often not evaluated, or sit outside of the curriculum. While research is increasing, UK students’ perceptions of such approaches, as well as their on-campus experiences, reporting preference and advice seeking behaviour remain unclear. This article presents a case study of an award-nominated, annual ‘Consent’ week of action involving a range of free, cross-campus, inter-disciplinary workshops and events taking place within existing programme curricula activities. 171 students and 10 staff participants completed a 25-item survey focusing on event feedback, sexual violence victimisation experiences, bystander intervention opportunities, reporting preferences, support service knowledge and perceptions of consent. Our findings suggest that sexual violence is prevalent, with many students witnessing incidents, but not knowing where to report or seek advice. Reasons included self-management, stigma, safety concerns, limited faith in existing reporting mechanisms and the normative nature of sexual violence within UK HEIs. Students appeared to find consent difficult to navigate, viewing it as one-sided and binary. Students and staff rated the cross-campus ‘Consent’ week of action as excellent, outlining a range of benefits, particularly in increasing knowledge around consent. Our work highlights the importance of embedding consent-related initiatives within programme curricula, while highlighting challenges and recommendations for future initiatives within UK HEIs.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Early online date20 Apr 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Apr 2020

Keywords

  • consent
  • education
  • University
  • sexual violence
  • student

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