To support the Prevention, Education, and Response to Sexualized Violence policy introduced in May 2017, UFV created three 90-minute sexualized violence prevention workshops: Consent 101, Citizenship 101, and Support 101.
The workshops last took place in mid-October with an average of three students attending each session, and will be returning in early January. Each workshop is offered as a drop-in info session run by trained student peer educators, but they are also run in classrooms — in departments like nursing, health sciences, and criminology.
“They’re called 101 for a reason,” Belinda Karsen, coordinator of student transition and engagement, said. “They’re sort of like, let’s begin a conversation about these topics.”
The conversation-style of these workshops, particularly in the drop-in sessions, is essential according to Karsen. The workshops are designed to be interactive, rather than feel like a lecture, and be accessible to students at all levels of knowledge about sexual violence prevention. As well, the workshops are led by peer educators to foster an informal environment students can feel comfortable in.
“[Students] feel comfortable voicing an opinion that might be perceived as controversial or problematic and we can use that to say ‘Okay, let’s talk about this, what are some of the assumptions behind this comment, and where are these coming from,’ and to help students progress in their understanding without publicly shaming anyone, making them feel dumb, or shutting them down in any way,” Karsen said.
Consent 101, rather than lecture at students about a legal definition of consent, relies on the discussion-style of the workshop.
“We talk about where our ideas about consent and sex and gender come from, so we talk a lot about pop culture and social conditioning, and start to critique some of the myths about gender, sex, consent, and romance,” Karsen said. “We need to understand where this baggage that we’re all lugging around with us is coming from in order to begin to critique our own understandings of consent.”
The Citizenship 101 workshop is based on promoting strategies for intervening in situations that may result in sexual assault. This workshop centres around a video Student Life created that showcases a narrative wherein bystanders notice a situation that may be sexual assault but do not intervene. Citizenship 101 uses this video to discuss the bystander effect: a phenomenon where a person is less likely to intervene in an emergency situation when other people are present.
In Support 101, students are taught how to “sensitively and appropriately” support a victim of sexual assault. This workshop involves the acronym CLEAR: confidentiality, listening, empathy, acting, and referring. The goal of this workshop is to give students tools and resources for supporting someone who has experienced trauma — namely, sexualized violence.
According to Karsen, the workshops are meant to be taken in order, but can be stand-alone if students are only interested in one of the topics. As well, the in-class workshops can be adapted for particular departments.
“We try to stick to the standard workshop, but we are willing to adapt it a little bit so that it can fit within the learning outcomes or the topics for that class,” Karsen said. “For example, in nursing, we just did one that really was focused on consent, but two of our peer educators are nursing students so they revised that one a little bit to make it very relevant for nursing students.”
As the theatre department has expressed an interest in the sexual violence prevention workshops, an adapted version of Consent 101 for acting classes will be implemented in January when the workshops return.
The drop-in classes are staggered at different times and days of the week so that all students have an opportunity to attend. The schedule will be posted in the UFV events calendar.
Image: Nadia Tudhope/The Cascade