New consent campaign launched across Cork colleges

The campaign responds to a spike last year in students reporting incidents of rape during Fresher’s week

A new consent campaign, targeted towards students, has been launched in Cork city this week.

The campaign has been intiated in response to a spike last September in the cases of rape reported to the the Cork Sexual Violence Centre (CSVC) by students during colleges’ Fresher’s weeks.

The campaign has been organised by the Safer City Initiative, a group made up of representatives from the CSVC, bar and nightclub owners, gardaí, the city council and street pastors.

Students at University College Cork and the Cork Institute of Technology will take part in workshops where they will be encouraged to compare initiating sex with the act of making someone a cup of tea.

The analogy goes: If someone doesn’t want a cup of tea, don’t make them drink it; they may initially say they’d love a cup of tea, but can change their mind; and if they’re unconscious, they can’t say they would like a cup of tea, let alone drink one.

A similar analogy for consent was used during the workshops held at Trinity Hall last week. Consent was explained to incoming Trinity Freshers as like borrowing your friend’s coat, just because you borrowed it once, doesn’t mean you can always borrow it.

This year UCC will also roll out its ‘bystander intervention’ workshops to all students, in a further effort to crack down on sexual harassment and assult.

These workshops encourage people to intervene if they witness any form of inappropriate conduct, ranging from verbal abuse or groping in a nightclub, right up to sexual assault and rape.

In past years attendance was compulsory for students of law, nursing, and applied psychology. And to pass their exams, they were required to attend at least three of the six one-hour lectures.

These classes will this year be made available, on a voluntary basis to all 22,000 students at UCC.

A survey of students from the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), in which 16 per cent of respondents reported had experienced “unwanted sexual contact” and 5% of women said they had been raped, led the government in 2019 to introduce in a “national framework for consent” in third-level education.

This year Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) have funded a new role in College, the Graduate Intern for Sexual Consent Education and Development.

Rachel Skelly, the inaugural holder of the position revealed to Trinity News that she is currently working as part of a working group within College to update Trinity’s consent policy.

If you have been affected by the issues raised of this article, support is available from the following services:

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre: 1800 778 888

Cork Sexual Violence Centre: 1800 496 496

Women’s Aid: 1800 341 900

Samaritans: 116 123

TCDSU Welfare Officer: [email protected]

Alfie Fletcher

Alfie Fletcher is a staff writer for Trinity News, and a Junior Fresh English student.