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16/10/2021

UL rolls out mandatory sexual consent classes for incoming students

UL rolls out mandatory sexual consent classes for incoming students

Chelsea Joyce: Consent Framework Co-Ordinator at UL

THE University of Limerick is rolling out mandatory sexual consent classes for all incoming first years in a bid to change campus culture and encourage students to speak out.

Workshops in the form of online facilitator training are being provided to all students as part of a new nationwide effort to tackle sexual violence in third level institutions in Ireland.

Newly-appointed UL Consent Framework Co-Ordinator Chelsea Joyce is responsible for rolling out the workshops along with the Assistant Psychologist and Student Welfare Officer.

"The workshop is a 30-minute video presentation that goes through different definitions and scenarios. It talks about interventions, being an active bystander as well as supports and services," she said.

“It offers scenarios, with two different options of right and wrong. Students can interact with the slido. Students vote anonymously on a poll and are free to ask questions,” she added.

Chelsea, whose position fits into the newly formed Office of the Director Human Rights Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion at UL, flagged that the online anonymity tool has increased engagement, with students unafraid to ask questions unlike previous years when workshops were in person.

She says the virtual workshops mean more students can be reached and that a wide selection of support services can be provided.

These include counselling provided by UL’s Assistant Psychologist and the availability of support from Rape Crisis Midwest in the event of a sexual harassment case.

“Students want to know more about consent. We learned from the USI Survey conducted earlier this year that students are reluctant to speak out about sexual harassment and violence. It’s often the case that they don’t want to make a big deal about an incident. We need to make it as easy as possible for students to come forward,” she explained.

The Consent Framework Group and the Sexual Health and Wellbeing Group within the university is currently developing a student and staff policy on sexual harassment, misconduct and sexual violence.

It is due to be finalised by the end of the year and will provide support contacts and guidance on how to report incidents within the university.

“It will contain all the information within one policy so there won’t be as much signposting. Once things become more difficult for students, they can be reluctant to speak out. Along with our newly developed Speak Out anonymous monitoring tool on campus and Active Bystander training that informs people on how to intervene, we hope people will be able to stand up for others,” said Chelsea.

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