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Second annual “Consent is Sexy” Week aims to educate Loyola community

Second annual “Consent is Sexy” Week aims to educate Loyola community

From Tuesday, April 6 to Friday, April 10 the Student Government Association (SGA), in partnership with the Women’s Center and Take Back the Night, will host the second “Consent is Sexy” week on Loyola’s campus. “Consent is Sexy” is a campaign supported by college campuses nationwide to promote sexual rights awareness,  educate on the importance of consent, and open discussion in all relationships,  from“hook-up” scenarios to long-term relationships.

So what exactly is consent? Angelica Puzio, director of student equity for SGA and one of the pioneers who brought “Consent is Sexy” to Loyola’s campus described  consent as: “This notion that students should have agency over their bodies and that we should have respect for human dignity and asking someone to confirm that they are on the same page as another person in a hook-up scenario.”

Puzio took an interest in the “Consent is Sexy” movement after seeing how peers at other Jesuit institutions were handling this topic. Puzio explained that the movement was  “born out of a desire to get at the core of what is prevention for sexual assault, which is basically that students need to have the tools to use consent.”

SGA works  with Loyola’s chapter of Take Back the Night to make sure students get these tools and to use Take Back the Night’s insights and experiences to approach the sensitive topic appropriately. Take Back the Night is a  crucial ally  to this campaign, since the club’s main goal  is to “shatter the silence” around sexual assault, which is exactly what a promotional and informational week accomplishes.

Take Back the Night can also be a helpful guide in assuring the campaign is appropriate to the survivors they strive to help.   As Emily Brookshire, 2016, explained, “You want to make sure that you are educating people while also making sure you are empathetic and sensitive to those who have experienced a sexual assault or unwanted sexual advance.”  Brookshire will be taking over as president of Take Back the Night next year.

This more tailored and specific message looks to make consent a more accessible issue, which in turn would achieve Brookshire’s goal. She hopes that “this week will give our students a greater understanding about the importance of gaining consent and tips to having those conversations with their partners. Because consent is the minimum.”

In addition to support from groups who are outwardly involved with this issue, such as Take Back the Night and the Women’s Center, Puzio reported that the school as a whole has been eager to support this movement, especially tenured faculty who see the campaign as “a progressive push for Loyola and a breath of fresh air.”

Despite feeling generally supported in the “Consent is Sexy” mission, Puzio explained that this is a touchy subject to address, administratively, since Student Development chooses not to support the campaign financially because of its sexual connotations. Although Student Development cannot outwardly support “Consent is Sexy,” Take Back the Night President, Kate Smith, 2015, explained that she feels the administration is progressing in discussing these issues. “Talking about anything sexual on a religiously affiliated campus is a careful line to toe, but we are more than happy to do it and they are more than happy to support us,” said Smith.

While on-campus resistance is a minor setback for this movement, one of the greatest challenges to the consent discussion is the fact that the topic becomes increasingly more complicated when the definition of consent varies in different universities’ codes of conduct. In the Loyola Community Standards for the 2014-2015 school year, consent is defined as “an affirmative indication of a voluntary agreement to engage in the particular sexual act or conduct in question,” but this is a fairly vague statement that could be construed as consent being both verbal and non-verbal..

In a survey conducted earlier this semester, approximately 300 first-year and sophomore students were asked about Loyola’s conduct policies in terms of consent and sexual assault. In the section entitled “How confident do you feel about your knowledge about sexual assault/resources on the Loyola campus?” many responded with negative answers, such as “Not very confident. I am not well educated on the policies, regulations and processes.” One student acknowledged that “even though the first-year drugs/alcohol/sex program helped us figure out how to handle situations, it did not explain Loyola’s policies.” Many students commented that training in the beginning of freshman year “did not sink in” for the rest of their time at Loyola, only remembering “obvious things like to not blame the victim” but not facts about other issues such as reporting and what constitutes consent. This lack of knowledge can pose difficulty to the campaign, though one student did shine a light on the consent conversation when they responded: “I think that most people understand what consent is and they know that has to be verbal and cannot be forced.” The fact that many students see consent as being solely verbal and without the gray-area, non-verbal aspect means that the “Consent is Sexy” message will be reaching students who are already more educated than they have been in the past.

The information that many of these student’s seek is readily available through Loyola resources like the Community Standards or through programs like Green Dot training, which is why educating students through “Consent is Sexy” week is so crucial. Puzio stated that  she hoped the long-term effect of this week would be that students would be more involved with the issue.

“The huge thing for me is that students need to take an active role in policies that actually affect students, said Puzio. “Caring about the policies more would be a powerful step for our campus.”

Emily Brookshire of Take Back the Night echoed this sentiment. “I think that we all as a community could stand to be more educated around the issue, especially in our reporting policies and campus resources, as well as open to ideas from our students and other schools around new resources for survivors.”

The “Consent is Sexy” movement is an important educational guide, considering that statistics show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Despite these facts, the consent conversation too often remains taboo. Puzio’s goal after the informative and interactive “Consent is Sexy” week is to open up the much-needed discussion about consent in relationships. “We want to take away the stigma that in these intimate interactions that there should be this lack of words, that the silent script for hooking up is failing us, and that there is a better one and that is consent,” she said.

“Consent is Sexy” week will galvanize discussion with a  table outside of Boulder or on the quad (weather permitting) starting Tuesday, April 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. where students can receive a “Consent is Sexy” t-shirt by either posting about the cause on social media or adding why they believe “Consent is Sexy” on an interactive board. A forum will take place on Thursday, April 9 in Knott Hall B01 at 7:30 p.m. and will be the culminating event in a week of education. This forum will give students the opportunity to hear from their peers, including Take Back the Night’s Brookshire, Student Life and others about what consent is and why it matters to all members of our campus community.


To get involved, be sure to engage in the discussion with the hashtag “#ConsentisSexyLoyola” to show support for the movement on our campus.

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Second annual “Consent is Sexy” Week aims to educate Loyola community