#GetConsent: A campaign of compassion

- October 31, 2014

The #GetConsent campaign logo.
The #GetConsent campaign logo.

“No means no. Silence means no. Drunk means no. Not now means no.”

Throughout October and beyond, a group of Dalhousie offices and organizations — Student Life, Residence Life, the DSU, Human Rights, Equity and Harassment Prevention, Dal Security and others — are rolling out a series of communications all around the title of “#getconsent." The goal is to help students and the entire Dal community better understand, appreciate and talk about the fundamental tenants and importance of consent when it comes to sexual activity.

The campaign, in particular, celebrates affirmative consent: an “only ‘yes’ means yes” standard that goes beyond even Canada’s current legal definitions of consent.

Organizer Melissa MacKay with the Student Life office explains that in addition to its own materials, Dal is sharing content from a variety of international campaigns like HeForShe and the White Ribbon Campaign.

“These organizations have a lot of valuable materials, but there are things missing from their work we wanted to incorporate,” she explains. One example she mentions is that neither group actively acknowledges a wider gender spectrum when it comes to gender equality, and this is something Dal is trying to rectify in its own campaigning.

Respect and understanding

Elements of the campaign kicked off during orientation week, including pamphlets, stickers and an event run by Venus Envy. MacKay hopes the "consent is sexy" stickers, while fun, will inspire a continued conversation about consent not just being sexy, but also mandatory.

This week varsity athletes are spending time in the Student Union Building and residences, helping educate students about consent and gender equality on campus, following up on their own training in sexual violence, gender equality and the role bystanders can play to help around these issues.

Then there’s Dal’s “Get Consent” website, which flyers, videos, and statistics that people can go check out and share. It also offers helpful information about how to ask for consent, how to say and hear ‘no,’ the implications of alcohol and drugs with regards to consent, and how to get help after an assault. The information may seem basic to some, but it’s gathered in one place as an easy resource for sharing with peers inside and outside the Dal community.

MacKay explains that Dal’s goal is to present a variety of views, materials, and information in order to start a broader conversation. The hope is that students will begin asking important questions amongst their own social circles about equality and consent. Ideally, these conversations will get louder and more verbal so that the Dal community can grow a dialogue about what gender equality means and how to work towards ending sexual violence.

Learn more: dal.ca/getconsent


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