Consent Training for Students
The Art of Consent supports universities to become safe, welcoming and accessible learning environments for all students, by helping to build a culture of consent for everyone, every day.
Consent is rightly a hot topic in universities - especially sexual consent, which is crucial in preventing serious harm. But consent and personal boundaries are relevant to all areas of our lives: with our friends and families, with acquaintances, and in our professional and educational relationships.
However, establishing consent can be challenging for any number of reasons, including peer pressure, our experiences of privilege or marginalisation, personal trauma, social conditioning, group dynamics and professional and social power imbalances. Because of this, we all sometimes make mistakes, and we are all on the receiving end of others’ mistakes - and sometimes, unfortunately, much worse.
The good news is that consent and boundaries skills can be improved with practice. We can develop our self-awareness and relationship-building skills by learning to trust and communicate our own needs, boundaries and desires, and honouring those of others.
Key to this is understanding that consent can be approached from three different, but related, perspectives:
1. Consent for Harm Prevention -
Basic, fundamental sexual consent awareness and training to reduce sexual misconduct, harassment and assault.
2. Consent as a Personal Skill -
Bringing more clarity, safety, understanding and awareness to all our interactions, including sex and relationships.
3. Consent as a Community Culture -
Building a broader culture of consent, to ensure our community is accessible, safe and welcoming for everyone.
Each level includes and goes further than the previous one. Our typically 90-minute workshops can focus on any or all of these areas, and can be adapted to suit your particular needs - including workshops for graduate students, or 'next level' workshops for second and third year undergraduates.
A word to universities...
Numerous studies have shown high rates of sexual assault and harassment on campus. Universities have a duty of care toward their students, yet are frequently criticised for failing to address these problems. It is widely accepted that, rather than being caused solely by a few bad actors, sexual assault and harassment are systemic, and can therefore only be effectively addressed by building a culture of consent within colleges and universities.
A parliamentary research briefing published in 2022 recommends that “universities should offer consent classes to all students. These should set out what sexual violence is, how to seek and recognise consent before sexual encounters, how to identify situations in which consent cannot be given, and the sanctions for committing sexual misconduct.” It also describes the importance of “addressing the underlying issues of power and privilege in student sexual violence and misconduct that might be constructively challenged by educational interventions”.
Issues of power, privilege and consent can be complex and sensitive, and the best way to manage systemic sexual violence is through prevention. However, most universities offer at best just one short session on consent, which is either completed online or facilitated by second year students with barely any training. To fulfil their duty of care, universities could, and many people feel should, be doing much more. At the Art of Consent, we believe that professionally held, trauma-informed, in-person consent workshops are a potent and meaningful step in the right direction.
What people have said...
Tyra Amofah-Akardom, Graduate Student, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University
"Being able to experience these workshops was such a gift. The conversation surrounding boundaries and consent is often presented as black and white, lacking nuance, and only about sexual encounters. However, the Art of Consent workshop illuminated many complex areas and issues surrounding consent and how it affects our everyday lives.
Ever since this workshop, I've thought more deeply about how consent affects me every day, and it's already positively impacted my mental health. I know many people think they know all there is to know about consent, but trust me - there is so much more we can learn, and this workshop is a brilliant contribution to our conversations about consent."
Claire Thompson, Wellbeing Co-ordinator, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University
"I really appreciated Rupert’s down-to-earth, engaging, open and fun approach to leading these sessions with our students. I believe that building a culture of consent in all areas of life – not just in our sexual lives - is vital if we are to build a world where relationships are respectful, creative and fulfilling.
The Art of Consent workshop was a very effective introduction to supporting and empowering students to take responsibility for themselves and their boundaries so that they can enjoy better relationships during their time at University and beyond. The students also loved this more holistic approach to addressing issues around consent!”
WATCH THIS 5 MINUTE VIDEO ABOUT OUR STUDENT CONSENT WORKSHOPS
Our lead workshop facilitator, Rupert James Alison, has been facilitating consent workshops for over a decade and is an accredited teacher of the Wheel of Consent with Betty Martin’s international School of Consent. In March 2022 he was a panel member at a sexual consent education panel discussion organised by Brookes University in Oxford. In the Autumn of 2022 he led a series of workshops on social and sexual consent for students at two Cambridge colleges: Fitzwilliam College and Sidney Sussex College.
We also have a highly talented and diverse team of co-facilitators who work together with Rupert to present our workshops.
We can run these workshops in person at your organisation anywhere in the UK, and can also deliver them online if preferred. Contact us to find out more...
See also our Consent Conversations card below to inspire personal reflections and shared conversations about sexual consent and consent culture with friends, colleagues, family and partners: