Let’s Get Consensual takes off after semester-long delay
Greta Kooy // Campus Life Editor
Following the Sexual Violence and Misconduct policy Capilano University released last year, the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) launched a campaign focusing on consent culture on campus. What inspired the CSU to bring their own campaign of the same name to CapU was an initiative originally organized by the University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) called Let’s Get Consensual.
The CSU had planned to launch their campaign by the end of September, but they could only begin once members had received training from the UVSS. Instead, the CSU is seeing their plan being implemented this month. Due to scheduling issues, their original training dates were pushed from August to December.
Training took place over the winter break and involved an intense three-day workshop based out of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Surrey campus. There, members of the Anti-Violence Project, an association based out of the University of Victoria, trained participants from the CSU.
Alongside other BC universities, five members of the CSU attended, including Women Students Liaison Katie Japaridize. “It was very detailed,” she said. “It was a good opportunity for us at the [CSU] to connect with other student associations.”
Now, three months later, the CSU has held their second workshop associated with the campaign. Although it would have been much more ideal to launch their campaign earlier, Japaridize noted that training CSU volunteers required extra time and effort.
“We had a debrief in February to get the volunteers back together and to talk about the training, what went well, what didn’t go well, what they learned and how we could improve,” said Japaridize.
Working with the CSU on their Sexual Violence and Misconduct Campaign is Jody Armstrong, CapU’s community wellness strategist, who Japaridize noted was a valuable and key member to the project. “My job came as a response to the Sexual Violence and Misconduct policy, so part of my job is focused on the implementation of that policy,” he said.
Armstrong, along with Arts and Sciences Faculty Representative Madeleine Fyffe and Senate Representative Joshua Larsen, hosted a Let’s Get Consensual workshop at CapU on Mar. 7.
These workshops are far less intense than the training CSU members received from the Anti-Violence Project. Students are encouraged to work with and interact with one another by way of icebreakers and question and answer periods. This method, Japaridize believes, opens up the space to talk about sexual violence and misconduct in a comfortable and supportive environment. “What I find is that this type of learning is way more efficient… When you actually discuss things with each other, that’s when you start thinking,” she said.
The CSU currently has no plans for another workshop this semester, but Japaridize is hopeful that the campaign will run again next year and further into the future. “We’ve had a lot of interest,” Japaridize said of the workshops. “That’s one of the hardest things for us, to get people together and to get people interested, because we’re a commuter campus. No one really stays here.” However, she isn’t worried about the number of students participating in the workshop, but rather the quality of their experience and what they are able to take away from it.
The importance of a campaign like Let’s Get Consensual is becoming evident as more post-secondary institutions implement sexual violence and misconduct policies in accordance with BC legislation and participate in the ongoing practice of consent and consent-based culture. “The campaign is about sexualized violence, but it’s about consent,” said Board of Governors Representative Hassan Merali, “because consent is central to preventing sexualized violence and misconduct.”
CSU President and Vice President Finance and Services, Perry Safari, noted the changing environment of the campus, acknowledging the new CapU residence at Dollarton. “The setting at Cap is changing very rapidly… That changes the dynamic of [the campus]. That’s why it’s important to put more of an emphasis on sexual violence and misconduct awareness.”
Armstrong noted that similar consent training would soon be afforded to Residence Advisors at the Dollarton Residence, and that workshops are being tailored to those living at Dollarton.