This is a matter which I have never really thought about before; or the scale of the issue of 1 in 3 women* experiencing unwanted sexual advances before completing the Consent Matters course. Obviously, sexual violence is totally unacceptable in our society and the Sexual Violence & Misconduct Operations Group at Durham is aiming to educate people in how to avoid this from happening.
I found the Consent Matters course located on DUO (Durham University Online), highly effective, however at times I did find it uncomfortable. The course introduces when consent can and can’t be given, and the legal age. Then, the course moves onto how to become an active bystander and help your friends, preventing them becoming a victim of sexual violence. A drunk night out and these matters may seem trivial, no one drunk has the capacity to make these decisions but these decisions have lifelong and substantial consequences.
At Durham, during freshers week everyone has a consent workshop. However, it was not as eye-opening as this course. I believe that we all have a moral obligation to learn how to stand up to people making unwanted sexual comments or gestures. This is not just humour or what happens, it is a serious issue and no one should feel uncomfortable. A few simple words towards someone acting inappropriately could potentially save someone from serious harm.
Durham remains one of the safest places to be a student in the UK, however complacency is not acceptable. If you are a victim/survivor, details of where to find support are available as on the attached web link. Even if you have not experienced this, you should know the sources of support to direct your friends to, it is more likely they will seek support if it comes from you.
Recently, all members of the American Football team completed the course; so get yourself on DUO and see what it is all about.
Durham University recognises that sexual violence and misconduct is a matter of international concern. There is a Sexual Violence & Misconduct Operations Group, who focus on making Durham a safer place to live, work and study. Visit the webpage for further information, advice and support.
*Statistic quoted in the Consent Matters online course