UF’s attempts to educate students about consent: Where are we now?

By Jacob King

A recent lawsuit against The University of Findlay has raised discussion around sexual harassment, consent, and intoxication. But what is the University doing to educate students about these issues?

In light of the two separate sexual assault cases that occurred in 2014, the University has made attempts to educate students about consent and sexual misconduct through the means of mass email.

A recent email from UF officials informed students of the situation and told them that there would be an “educational blitz” conducted during February that featured a large campus presentation, programming and surveys in order to further educate students.

Some have found these efforts to inform students minimal.

Michayla Stallings, junior pre-vet major, said she has taken some of the surveys UF sends out regarding sexual assault but not all. She said that the focus of their message must be changed.

“I just think the school should focus more on teaching us what we should do if/when we’re drunk rather than telling us not to get drunk,” said Stallings.

Although not all have found UF’s efforts to educate helpful, Phil Lucas, Ph.D., associate professor of criminal justice and forensic science, said it’s better than doing nothing and that perhaps educating students at an earlier phase in college would be more beneficial.

“To do nothing is foolish, to ignore the problem is foolish…” said Lucas. “I think it’s something on day one during freshman orientation, where freshman get here for the first time, that’s covered.”

Lucas said that although no changes to the freshman orientation process have been made, alterations are currently being discussed.

“Should it [education on consent, intoxication] be reinforced continually during a first year experience…that’s still being worked on,” said Lucas. Ashely Ritz, executive director of Open Arms, a domestic violence shelter, said that educating people on issues of consent and intoxication is important, but can be challenging because there is so much subjectivity surrounding these terms.

“Obviously, education is the biggest hurdle that universities have these days and understanding the term ‘consent’ is different,” said Ritz. “Everybody has their own definitions.”

Lucas said that defining “intoxication” and “consent” prove to be difficult and unclear.

“How do you define ‘intoxication’, how do you define under the ‘under the influence’,” said Lucas. “Those are all issues that need to be covered…”

Ritz said that educating at an earlier stage about these issues is an idea that should be expanded on.

“I think it would be great for high schools to do it because ultimately consent is an issue in high school too,” said Ritz. “Why not educate students as early on as possible, so we’re all aware of it.”

Stallings said that being taught about these issues early on would be helpful, especially toward those living on campus.

“I think that welcome weekend for freshman orientation and RAs should hold programs for that stuff,” said Stallings.

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