As former Blue and White managing editor Anna Bahr, BC ’14, pointed out in her examination of Columbia’s policies on Gender-Based Misconduct, the NSOP program “Consent Is Sexy” was in much need of an overhaul. In light of significant changes to the program, Bwog sat down with a consent educator (who asked to remain anonymous) to discuss what’s working and where work still needs to be done. We’d also like to encourage any attendees of the new program to write for us about their experience. Send stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bwog: So what’s new?
Consent Educator: The program is longer this year than past years. It included two half hour presentations from SVR [Sexual Violence Response] and the University Gender Based Misconduct Office. This was followed by a half hour portion in small groups with consent educators, including a presentation about resources, and an opportunity for students to ask questions.
CE: The tone of the program itself became more serious. Unfortunately, by the time the students got to the consent educators, the time period for the workshop had gone over by an hour already, so many students were pretty checked out. While I’m grateful that the new program actually discusses sexual violence and (briefly) discusses abuse, I’m somewhat worried that students won’t come away from the presentation examining their own behaviors and relationship to consent—presentations on policy can feel very removed from talking through the tools that people need to become better at navigating these situations and creating a culture of consent.
Bwog: What were the main points of the new curriculum?
CE: The new program does a much better job of explaining resources and options to students, which was missing in past years. They also briefly mention in the presentation how identity factors influences who experiences the most violence, which is important. [In terms of the actual workshop,] there were scenarios in the presentation that helped outline some [practical skills], and I’ve heard that some small group discussions were more productive than others. Unfortunately, many of the groups for the consent educator portion were missing students who had to leave since the program lasted so much longer than it was supposed to, which made it difficult to have the conversations about consent as a group that I would have liked to see happen. The handouts the students received were useful, though, it included a pamphlet on how to support survivors, and a clear outlining of campus resources. The LGBTQ+ specific flyers [Ed note: Bwog has heard that previous years of the program have entirely lacked discussion of the queer community on campus] that consent educators were supposed to have for their groups didn’t end up happening, which is unfortunate.
Bwog: Any final thoughts?
CE: It was encouraging to see such drastic changes in resources and presentation from last year, but I hope that they continue to revise the program in this coming year.
This interview was edited for clarity and brevity.