An accessible look at consent for students
The “Sex, Power, and Pop Culture: Putting Consent into Practice” workshop, organized by Not My Laurier on Tuesday, provided a different take on consent and healthy practices for students at Wilfrid Laurier University.Cassandra Mensah, the president of Not My Laurier, hosted the event and framed the workshop around healthy relationships and how to be intimate with people without solely focusing on sexual violence.
Cassandra Mensah, the president of Not My Laurier, hosted the event and framed the workshop around healthy relationships and how to be intimate with people without solely focusing on sexual violence.
“A lot of workshops focus around sexual violence make it really hard to have conversations because people are scared of causing harm,” said Mensah. “So I wanted to frame it in a way of being more open about just being more safe and how to have intimacy in a fun way.”
Participants at the workshop had the opportunity to discuss ways in which mainstream media provide sufficient examples of how to properly practice consent and safe sex. The presentation focused on how the media presents sexual consent and relationships versus how they are perceived in a university setting.
Participants also involved themselves in fake scenarios involving sexual consent, such as what to do when an intoxicated person wants to go home with you.
After the workshop, Mensah praised the university for prioritizing issues around sexual violence and assault on campus.
“I think that it’s super great that Laurier, over the past few years that I’ve been here, has slowly started prioritizing issues around sexual violence and have created a space where I can talk about this,” she said.
Over the past few years, there has been an increase of committees and on-campus organizations at Laurier to help educate students, staff and faculty about gendered violence, which includes training to assist those who have experienced sexual violence.
The Gendered Violence Taskforce, organized by the Diversity and Equity Office, is one of a number of committees that oversees and supports gendered violence prevention and awareness initiatives at Laurier. The university also partners with community organizations, such as the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region.
Mensah, however, believes there’s more to be done to make sure these issues are dealt with.
“I think that there’s a piece missing where we don’t really reflect on how we’re doing this work and whether or not it’s effective, so that’s what this [workshop] was about, as well like rethinking about how we can talk about these things in a way that’s more accessible to students.”