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Students at UK universities demand compulsory sexual consent tests

There have been calls from students for there to be a mandatory sexual consent test for those arriving to university. The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) survey found that 58% of students supported the idea as a means to educate and ensure consent is ‘fully understood’.

Trigger warning: Sexual assault

Some students felt that education on sex and relationships in schools had been inadequate in preparing them for university. In a survey conducted by The Boar in February, 10.2% of Warwick students felt that Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) in school had prepared them for adult life and taught them about consent.

More than 10% of students who partook in the HEPI survey admitted that they are not confident on how to communicate consent clearly, or on what constitutes sexual assault or violence, as well as sexual harassment.

Additionally, 30% of students said in a survey that they were very confident about navigating consent after consuming alcohol.

While some of the findings are encouraging, much more still needs to be done to support students at university, many of whom will be away from home for the first time.

– Helen Marshall
 

The HEPI survey also revealed that 2 in 5 (43%) undergraduates arrive on campus as virgins. 11% said to be ‘voluntarily abstaining from sex’.

The demand for sexual consent tests comes after allegations of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse have increased on university campuses across the UK.

Helen Marshall, Chief Executive of Brook, a charity that works with young people to promote sexual health, stated: “While some of the findings are encouraging, much more still needs to be done to support students at university, many of whom will be away from home for the first time.”

Protect Warwick Women, who are currently occupying the piazza, have demanded “regular obligatory online and in-person education for students”, which they hope will replace the current Warwick Values module. They have asked that this includes compulsory talks in Welcome Week on consent and active bystander training.

One second year University of Warwick student said: “Universities in general and the University of Warwick in particular are reluctant and complacent in regard to sexual consent.

“Sexual consent tests and training is a huge, long-awaited, step in the right direction and I am sure university students will feel a lot safer as a result of it.”

The University commented: “While there is significant awareness raising and training already in place we are committed to continuously improving.

“This includes the introduction of compulsory sessions on consent at the start of the 2021/22 academic year, and making mandatory the completion of the online Warwick Values course, which contains a strong focus on consent – over 10,000 students have taken the Warwick Values training to date.

“Also, from the start of the 2021/22 every academic department will have a timetabled mandatory ‘Introduction to Active Bystander’ workshop for all incoming foundation, UG and PGT students delivered by the Community Values Education Programme team.

“Additionally, there will be: ‘Flip the Script’ training which focuses on the empowerment of women, a White Ribbon Campaign and accreditation Scheme for Male Allies, and Peer-to-peer Toxic Masculinity project training.”

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