Consent Awareness Week 2023 at Laurier  


Photo of a poster with the words "No is a full sentence" written by hand.
Photo of a poster with the words "No is a full sentence" written by hand.
Photo by Abigail Heckbert

The third week in September has been adopted by many educational institutions across Canada as Consent Awareness Week.  

The week acts as a time to encourage open dialogue surrounding consent in all relationships.  

Courage To Act, the gender based violence prevention initiative, explains in regard to Consent Awareness Week, “This week is a significant opportunity to reflect, champion, and celebrate consent as a cornerstone of all relationships, not just intimate ones.” 

Although the initiative is not officially recognized on a national scale, Consent Awareness Week’s message has proven to be extremely important for university student bodies due to “The Red Zone”.    

The MeToo movement defines the “The Red Zone” as, “a time of statistically heightened instances of sexual assault that happens during the first semester of college.” From the beginning of the new school year, spanning for around six weeks, 50 per cent of all post-secondary sexual assaults occur.  

While consent and the importance placed on it has become more normalized over recent years, overall education and preventive measures surrounding consent are still required.  

“I don’t think we’ll be done having the conversation, but the conversation will probably change and change is slow,” said Andrew Welsh, Associate Professor of Criminology and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences.  

Welsh added, “… certain things will become normalized slowly across generations, but things change, the world changes and the nature of the world changes. I think there will always be some aspects of consent that will be [prevalent].”  

This year, Laurier hosted various events for students to participate in for Consent Awareness Week.  

A virtual bystander intervention workshop was offered, focusing on ways bystanders can intervene and respond to instances of harm.  

Also, beginning on Sept. 19, a four-week workshop with the Wen-DO self-defense organization began. Women and non-binary individuals apart of the Laurier community were able to register free of charge for the session.  

Laurier’s Student union promoted Consent Awareness Week as well on the Waterloo and Brantford campuses.  

To begin Consent Awareness Week on campus, The Students Union invited Laurier community members to stand in solidarity with survivors.  

On the Waterloo campus, groups met in the Quad to show their support where speakers, chants and informational booths were featured as well.  

Events such as poster making, healing yoga and informational sessions were also held for students throughout the week.  

“I think [consent awareness week events] actually might even be more effective, because it’s being delivered by [peers], said Welsh. “Going out on campus and seeing that there’s all these booths set up and it’s all about consent and different types of education around relationships and intimacy, and the people that they can talk to, are maybe their peers, or people of their age, are people they can look at and say, I identify with that person.” 

For more information on Consent Awareness Week at Laurier, visit the university’s website. 

Visit the gendered and sexual violence webpage for information and support. 

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