Event series explores campus issues surrounding consent

This past week, the Athletics Department, the Dean of Students Office, the Student Government Association (SGA), the Pugh Community Board (PCB), and Student Health on Campus (SHOC) sponsored Consent Fest. Consent Fest is a weeklong event series, which aims to help the Mayflower Hill community better understand the practice of and issues surrounding consent, according to emails sent by SGA.

The series began on March 29 with three main events. The first, entitled “Build Upon Consent,” was hosted by Women’s Rugby in the Spa. Community members were invited to “build a wall of consent,” according to an email from Mules Against Violence (MAV), in order to visually express  one’s perception of affirmative consent.

Later that day, events continued at the Colby College Museum of Art. Professor of American Studies and Christian A. Johnson Professor of Integrative Liberal Learning Margaret McFadden and faculty fellow Hermangini Gupta discussed Jenny Holzer’s Crack the Pelvis, a piece of art involved in the dialogue surrounding rape. The artwork is a dark grey, granite bench engraved with the phrase: “Crack the pelvis so she lies right. This is a mistake. When she dies you cannot repeat the act. The bones will not grow together again and the personality will not come back. She is going to sink deep into the moss to get white and lighter. She is unresponsive to begging and self-absorbed.”

Tuesday’s events concluded with the popular annual Sex Narratives forum in Ostrove Auditorium. The forum, which counts towards the wellness seminar requirement for first-year students, focuses on stories submitted by students to describe “the good, bad, and ugly of sex,” according to SGA.

Events on March 30 began at 6 p.m. in Page Commons, where there was a reading of the November 19, 2015 Echo article, entitled “Sexual Healing: Senior Girls Want Action.” Seventeen female members of the Class of 2016 wrote the article about affirmative consent and instances of sexual misconduct within the College’s community, leading to an increase in dialogue. A panel with the authors followed the reading.
Following the panel in Page, students and faculty gathered in Ostrove to hear Katie Hnida talk. Hnida is the first woman to have scored in an NCAA Division 1-A football game, according to records from the University of New Mexico. In addition to her accomplishments as a barrier-breaking athlete, Hnida has become well known for her perspective on sexual misconduct in American professional athletics since graduating in 2004. Attendees of her talk were welcomed to the Marylow Coffeehouse afterwards to discuss their reactions to the lecture.

During the second-to-last day of Consent Fest, Instructor in Sociology Karen Macke and her students displayed work done in the Sociology of Sexualities class in the Joseph Family Spa. Student projects included studies on political efforts and cultural theory to better understand activism surrounding sex and sexuality.

At 4 p.m., the Mary Low Coffeehouse hosted a conversation on what it means to “Reclaim Sex,” in conjunction with the Oak Institute for the Study of International Human Rights. At 6 p.m. Professor and Director of Education Mark Tappan’s Boys To Men class facilitated a talk in Dana Dining Hall about  how gender norms influence sexuality on campus.

Finishing up Thursday’s programming, ExPRESS Poetry, the Feminist Alliance, and the Oak Institute sponsored a Women’s History Month Open Mic Night in the Mary Low Coffeehouse. Self-identified female community members  were invited to present poetry that would contribute to the discussion on the role of women in the social and hook-up culture at the College and in the world.

On April 1, the popular SexPosition event was held in the Spa. Multiple student groups and organizations set up tables and presented various activities surrounding sexual-health and consent, attracting many students between classes. MAV, for example, focused its table on helping students find creative ways someone can ask for consent. The SexPosition event embodied the ways in which Consent Fest makes its programming engaging to students, without trivializing the serious issue of sexual misconduct.

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