This year the number of first-year students attending the ‘Got Consent?’ workshops has more than tripled, according to the workshops’ organiser Alice Lecointe.
These consent workshops are delivered by StAnd Together, an initiative organised by Student Services and the Students’ Association. The workshops aim to deliver an engaging presentation and engage discussion around issues of sexual assault within the student community.
In the 2015-2016 academic year, 300 students attended workshops, whereas this year, that number has risen to around 980, almost half of the first year population.
This has been credited to some halls making workshops mandatory. This includes John Burnet Hall, University Hall, Agnes Blackadder Hall, St Salvatore’s Hall and St Regulus’s Hall.
Ms Lecointe, the StAnd Together coordinator and founder and project manager for the Got Consent workshops, confirmed their recent success.
Ms Leocointe expressed her happiness with the rise in attendance to The Saint and stated that it has helped students immensely in understanding sexual boundaries.
“I’ve also had many students come up to me in the Union or on nights out saying that they had helped someone out or challenged someone’s behaviour as a result of attending the workshop,” she said.
Going on, Ms Lecointe said, “As much as students might be reluctant to attend a workshop at first, they always engage and many of them sign up at the end to train as a volunteer.
“The fact that all workshops are delivered by trained students also helps, as we really aim to make the sessions feel more like a conversation than a lecture.”
The workshops are supported by the Student’s Association who have developed the initiative by introducing a peer support group known as ‘Got Support?’.
Catriona Crookes, the Student Representative Council (SRC) Member for General Equality, commented on the growing success of the consent workshops.
Ms Crookes said, “The Got Consent workshops are a fantastic initiative and it has been great to see the increase in interest and participation in the workshops within the student body.
“When it comes to issues like consent and sexual harassment it is important to take proactive preventative measures, such as the consent workshops, rather than being reactive. I hope the Got Consent continues to expand over the next few years and that eventually all incoming students will take part in the workshops.”
The delivery of consent workshops remains a controversial topic within some universities. Harry Shepherd-Smith, a student of Bristol University, released a condemning article on mandatory sexual consent workshops, arguing that they should not need to take place in “civilized society.”
However, these criticisms do not seem to have affected the workshops delivered in St Andrews.
Discussing the future of the project Ms Lecointe revealed to The Saint that there are potential plans in the future for making the consent workshops mandatory for each incoming, matriculating student.
She states “It’s a slow process, but this year all hall wardens attended a workshop themselves at the start of the year and are starting to understand how important and effective they are.”
The success of this initiative in St Andrews has led to discussions with the University of Glasgow about recreating a similar project.