The National University of Ireland Galway Students’ Union (NUIGSU) are to run the first ever consent workshops at two of their student residences, Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village. Organised by the NUI Galway Smart Consent Programme, over 40 trained volunteers will participate in the education of sexual consent to first year students.
The consent workshops are to serve as an extension of the work that the Students’ Union have completed in reaction to “sexual harassment on college campuses” and the #metoo movement. So far, NUI Galway have organised activities which address sex and consent, including the advertising of the free campus STI Clinic and the provision of free condoms.
Clare Austick, NUI Galway Students’ Union Welfare & Equality Officer, recognised the value of consent education, which she says is “extremely important and beneficial to students.” She outlined that “there appears to be a very evident lack of understanding around the topic of consent and sexual health in general.”
Austick continued: “I believe Students’ Unions and Universities in particular should take a strong lead in implementing consent workshops as sexual violence and harassment are still very prevalent issues in today’s world. Consent isn’t a straightforward, black and white, spoken about topic, whereby a lack of consent given can potentially ruin lives.”
She finished by highlighting the collaborative nature of the workshops, as they “are designed to create a dialogue between students around consent and empower the individual to communicate what they may or may not want.”
Project Leader of SMART Consent Padráig MacNeela added: “It is really exciting to work with NUI Galway Students’ Union on rolling out consent workshops.”
He also noted that this was the result of research from over 2,000 students nationwide, that “the workshops are enjoyable and have an impact on confidence and knowledge. Now we have the opportunity to learn how to mainstream workshops as part of the student experience at NUI Galway.”
The first consent workshops for Junior Fresh students at Trinity were ran during the 2017/2018 academic year, following a mandate made by the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU). The workshops, held during Freshers’ Week, are held for all first year students living at Trinity Hall. Last year, over 90% of residents at Trinity Hall attended the workshops.