Let’s Talk about Consent
Tips For Having this Important Conversation with Your Student
Eastern Washington University takes sexual violence very seriously, and we know that you and your student do also. It is essential to help students understand consent, support healthy relationships, and learn to be a part of a larger community that looks out for one another. Your relationship with your student is a lifelong one that can have a tremendous influence on the decisions they make in college and beyond. Talking about consent means talking to your student about sex. Talking about these topics is important for their emotional and physical wellbeing. While students may have learned about contraceptives, birth control, and other sexual health education in school, often the dialogue and discussion around consent is missing. Communication is the foundation to any healthy relationship, which includes asking for consent.
Consent needs to be obtained by the person who is initiating a sexual activity in the form of a verbal question, this should be an on-going conversation, obtained for each new act and can be withdrawn at any time. Let’s start with some conversation starters to have with your student and open this dialogue.
- Who do you think experiences sexual violence on campus?
- When do you think sexual violence is most likely to occur for college students?
- How can you ask for consent?
- How can you give consent?
- What can you say if you’re uncomfortable in any situation?
In addition, an individual who is incapacitated by drugs or alcohol cannot give consent, even if they want to engage in a sexual activity. There is no clear formula for how many drinks someone can have before they are incapacitated and cannot make decisions. This is a large gray area where you can encourage your student to recognize if someone appears intoxicated, they should not engage in sexual activity with them. With that being said though, it is never a victim’s fault for experiencing violence. Drinking alcohol or using drugs does not excuse or justify instances of sexual violence. We encourage you to try these conversation starters with your students as it relates to alcohol, drugs and consent:
- What would you do if you wanted to hook up with someone that you met at a party, and it appears they’ve been drinking?
- What signs may you see in someone who has consumed alcohol or drugs?
- What would you do if you see someone else crossing a line with someone that appears to be unable to give consent (possibly due to drugs or alcohol)?
- Whose responsibility is it to step in if you see someone at a party/residence hall/club/bar that is incapacitated?
- When you see something, say something. How can you intervene if you see behaviors which concern you?
We understand these conversations can be difficult, but we hope these conversation starters can provide you with support to keep an ongoing dialogue about sexual health and wellbeing with your student. Eastern Washington University is committed to preventing sexual violence from occurring, but we can’t do it alone. It is up to everyone one of us to have these difficult but real conversations.
Want to learn more? Join our group of panelists in a discussion centered around how to talk about consent in our next Eagle Family Hour on Thursday, November 17th, 2022 at 12 PM.
Still nervous about the conversation? Check out the below video we found to be helpful!
Curious about other Title IX- related topics? Feel free to browse our informative website.