On Thursday February 1 2018, the University of Warwick Ladies Hockey Club organised and hosted a ‘Warwick Gets Consent’ event.
In a lecture theatre that only Life Sciences students would ever be able to find in the labyrinth that is the Gibbet Hill campus, a very important event took place. ‘Warwick Gets Consent’ sounded very promising; even though the Facebook event was private with added layers of security. Faye White and Tanaka Mhishi, both in their 20s and survivors of sexual assault, were invited to talk about their experiences. Their talks focused on the stigma accompanying sexual assault, and everything that can and should change, in university and beyond. The speakers were very honest and ensured they provided space for all participants, something really important when it comes to discussions around this topic.
One quarter of women and one sixth of men experience sexual abuse at some point in their lifetimes.
Contentwise, the event gave insight into a problem that affects a very large percentage of the population. As Tanaka told us, in this country one quarter of women and one sixth of men experience sexual abuse at some point in their lifetimes. Understanding the steps to follow after such a traumatising incident, like reporting the case to the police and applying for mitigating circumstances at university, as well as how to help survivors in our daily interactions with them, is vital information that all of us should have knowledge of. What made it better for me was the fact that there was male representation. Often society forgets that men are not only perpetrators, but are also victims. And although the audience was mostly comprised of girls, there were boys present and they were eager to engage in the discussion, which I found particularly positive.
Sexual assault is a salient issue and Faye and Tanaka are people that we need to listen to.
However, the event’s impact potential wasn’t maximised in the least. For such a significant initiative for such a topical problem, I would have expected an event organised under the auspices of the SU and/or the University, with the collaboration of a lot of Societies and Sports Clubs, to be widely publicized around campus, and held at a time that isn’t so packed with lectures and seminars. Sexual assault is a salient issue and Faye and Tanaka are people that we need to listen to.
Undeniably, societies and sports clubs are a main area of socialisation for many of us, and this only increases the imperative for all of us, as exec or regular members, to be properly informed and educated on matters of consent and sexual abuse.
The ‘Warwick Gets Consent’ event has come at a fitting time, as Warwick SU has recently launched its #WeGetConsent campaign. The campaign has recently seen the introduction of ‘Ask Angela’ in SU outlets.
It’s high time we stopped thinking sexual violence is a topic to be discussed in an almost secret event in a lecture theatre hidden behind the Gibbet Hill Café.
In the Copper Rooms, Terrace Bar and the Dirty Duck, if a student feels unsafe, they can ask for ‘Angela’ at the bar, where they can receive help from the SU staff. Especially in the spirit of the SU’s current campaign, I would really like to see seminars organised in unison by the SU and the University on dealing with sexual assault and helping victims on their way to healing. The events should be open to all students, but especially, Welfare Officers. I hope this brilliant initiative was just the start and sets a precedent for more university-wide discussions because, really, it’s high time we stopped thinking sexual violence is a topic to be discussed in an almost secret event in a lecture theatre hidden behind the Gibbet Hill Café.