It's on Us to host discussion on consent, sexual assault

By Alex Sixt | 11/27/17 2:07am

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GVL / Spencer Scarber Grand Valley State University's "It's On Us" organization campaigns against sexual assault on Tuesday September 12, 2017

Consent is a topic that is being discussed on college campuses across the country. Students often hear the word "consent," but not everyone may understand the current definition as it relates to sexual assault. The Grand Valley State University chapter of It’s on Us is striving to change that and educate students on how to give, recognize and teach others about consent. 

On Wednesday, Nov. 29, GVSU students will get the opportunity to learn about consent and ask any questions they may have about it as part of the "Cookies and Consent" series. It’s on Us and the GVSU Panhellenic Association will be hosting a discussion about consent in the Multipurpose Room of the Mary Idema Pew Library at 8 p.m.

For the event—"What Is Consent, Really?"—It’s on Us will be hosting Heather Alberda, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health sexuality educator, to help lead the discussion. Topics of conversation will include how to develop key relational skills when it comes to consent and how to ask for, give or deny consent in all relationships, both romantic and casual. 

Alberda will also be answering any questions students may have concerning this topic. The goal of the program is start a campus-wide conversation about consent and to educate about why having and giving consent is so important in relationships. 

At GVSU, It’s on Us is comprised of a team of students who share the same passion for educating about and preventing domestic and sexual assault on college campuses. 

“We’re just trying to start a conversation about consent and make it not such a taboo on campus,” said Maddie Vervaeke, financial officer of It’s on Us and one of the coordinators of the program. 

As part of the event, the organizers will give students an opportunity to anonymously ask questions through a “myth bowl” in an effort to dispel common misconceptions about sexual assault. 

“We’re trying to educate in a more confidential way,” Vervaeke said. She hopes this will encourage more students to learn about sexual assault and consent in a welcoming environment that combines socialization and education. 

“There needs to be more awareness,” said Michelle Roldan, president of It’s an Us at GVSU. 

While this event is part of a two-day series in partnership with the Panhellenic Association, It’s on Us has many more events planned for the future to continue the conversation about sexual assault across campus.

“As long as people can understand there’s resources and ways to get help on campus for those who are survivors and allies, our goal is complete,” Roldan said.

The even organizers are expecting a large turnout of students at the program and are excited to get the conversation started at GVSU. Anyone who is interested is welcome to come and discuss the topics of sexual assault and consent, and cookies will be provided as refreshments. 

The event is LIB 100- and 201-approved, and there is no fee to attend.  

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