From October 20 to 24 on the downtown campus, and from October 22 to 24 on the Macdonald campus, McGill will be holding the #ConsentMcGill campaign. Seeking to increase campus awareness and understanding of consent, #ConsentMcGill will include events throughout the week such as movie screenings, information booths, workshops, discussions, and much more.
#ConsentMcGill was created through collaboration with students, faculty, and staff working to spread understanding of the concept of the “yes means yes” model of consent, where silence or the absence of a ‘no’ does not mean consent.
“I think this campaign is targeting the youth at large,” Brighita Lungu, Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) Member Services Officer and Graduate Student Liaison for #ConsentMcGill, told The Daily. “It is designed to challenge misconceptions and stereotypes about what consent means, when one needs to ask for it, and what are the limits one has to respect without giving it a second thought.”
The campaign initially started as a working group of about thirty participants, but is now a collaboration between student-led and university groups, such as the Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS), the Union for Gender Empowerment (UGE), the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), the Social Equity and Diversity Education office (SEDE), McGill Athletics, and Counselling Services.
The campaign is part of the University’s response to the controversy that occurred last year after it was revealed that three Redmen football players had been charged with sexual assault in 2012.
On Tuesday at 1 p.m., the UGE will hold a workshop on consent that will give people the opportunity to create their own zines, according to Leela Scott, the Co-op Coordinator for the UGE and facilitator of the workshop.
“The purpose is to expand on the discussion that’s going to be going on at the booth and tabling events around campus,” Scott told The Daily, referring to stations around campus where students will write a short statement about what consent is and what it means to them.
“We think that’s a really good starting point, but we think that there needs to be more,” said Scott.
Scott described the workshop as an open space where participants will be “free to come with any ideas that they have.” They said potential topics include personal reflections on consent or a description of what the world would be like if everyone practiced consent perfectly.
In addition, Scott said that there would always be an opportunity for participants to take their projects further. “If people are interested after that workshop in making a zine about consent, the UGE accepts stipend requests, so we can sponsor someone to make their own zine. And if it fits with our mandate, then we’re pretty down to fund that,” said Scott.
The purpose of #ConsentMcGill
According to Bianca Tétrault, McGill’s Liaison Officer (Harm Reduction), #ConsentMcGill focuses on three main aspects of consent: asking, listening, and respecting. “Consent runs deeper than just sexual activity. It’s about asking, listening, and respecting the people that we’re with and interact with in our daily lives,” Tétrault told The Daily. “Instead of using a top-down approach, we really wanted to be an inviting campaign [… and] have people engage with us instead of us telling them what to do.”
#ConsentMcGill is structured as a kickoff event for many of the events, discussions, and workshops that will be held throughout the year. “The idea of the campaign is to be a platform to launch the other events that are going to be happening throughout the year,” said Tétrault. “So although the campaign is not going to be continuing out through the year, the conversation around consent and sexual assault will.”