‘Let’s Get Consensual’ promotes culture of consent on campus, aims to start new dialogues

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Consent campaign launches with the help of groups across campus, student and staff planning. COURTESY PHOTO / WM.EDU

campus-wide effort to normalize consent is coming to the College of William and Mary this semester through the “Let’s Get Consensual” campaign. Every two weeks, a theme on the topic of consent will be introduced and discussed through social media posts and organized activities. These organized campaigns are designed to foster unity and spur understanding of consent across campus. 

According to Lindsey MosvickJ.D., the College’s sexual violence prevention specialist, the campaign originated from President Katherine Rowe’s desire to help the student body learn and grow, after a meeting last spring on the College’s sexual misconduct policy 

‘We should really do something campus-wide. I really want there to be a big, collaborative effort around a culture of consent here at William and Mary.

“The Title IX coordinator, Pamela Mason, and I went and visited the President’s Aides just to talk generally about our sexual misconduct policy, our sexual violence prevention efforts,” Mosvick said. “President Rowe said, ‘We should really do something campus-wide. I really want there to be a big, collaborative effort around a culture of consent here at William and Mary.’” 

Erin O’Hara ’21, president of Someone You Know, brought up another reason for the creation of the new campaign. 

“We had a little campaign at the end of last year called ‘Consent Is…’ and you talked about what consent meant to you, so we had a lot of success and interest in that,” O’Hara said. We find that saying, ‘Let’s talk about sexual assault and domestic violence,’ can scare people and push them away, but consent is something that, my favorite term to use is ‘consent is cool.’”

After their conversation with Rowe, Mosvick immersed herself in planning the new initiative. She soon found herself surrounded by a unique array of student groups, including SYK, from throughout the College community. 

“There has been a planning committee of folks from a host of different organizations: HOPE, Someone You Know, Amnesty International, The Haven, Student Assembly and VOX,” Mosvick said. “Those groups really came up with the overall taglineOur vision for the campaign was that it would be a unified effort, but there would be leadership on different stages of the campaign.” 

O’Hara also discussed her group’s specific involvement within the campaign and detailed their roles in the project beyond helping to devise it. 

“The campaign is split up into several different areas of concentration within the broad term of consent,” O’Hara said. “Someone You Know has a two-week period during the semester, when we’ll go over long-term relationships and consent. 

She continued by specifying why awareness about consent within long-term relationships is an especially important topic to address in the campaign. 

“Long-term relationships still involve consent,” O’Hara said. “A lot of times when you’re involved in a relationship, it is assumed that sexual activity or even kissing can just happenwhenever you want. We want to enforce that consent is definitely not assumed. It’s recurring and renewable and revocable.”  

“Long-term relationships still involve consent,” O’Hara said. “A lot of times when you’re involved in a relationship, it is assumed that sexual activity or even kissing can just happenwhenever you want. We want to enforce that consent is definitely not assumed. It’s recurring and renewable and revocable.”  

Echoing O’Hara’s earlier thoughts, Mikhala Stafford ’20, another student involved in planning the Let’s Get Consensual campaign, hopes the campaign will address consent in a more accessible and positive light. 

“We haven’t had a consistent, campus-wide campaign so far in my time here about positive consent,” Stafford said. I think it’s very scary to some people and we wanted to make it accessible to everyone and something that was very easy to talk about. I’m hoping there will be more casual conversation about consent and communication during sexual interactions and that people will feel more comfortable discussing it in their daily lives. 

Other elements for the campaign vary from reaching students with social media platforms to basic consent education with new students; all of these are intended to have students engage in critical conversations. 

Director of The Haven, Liz Cascone, looks forward to The Haven’s role in the consent campaign and its facet of education.

“The Haven is thrilled to partner with the Office of Health Promotion on the Let’s Get Consensual Campaign. Teaching skills for consent to young adults is one way we can strengthen healthy relationships across campus and lower risk of sexual assault. The Haven peer confidential advocates will be engaged in campaign efforts all semester long and we are so pleased that the campus is responding so positively,” Cascone commented in an email.

Mosvick concurred with Cascone’s thoughts as she explained why a consent campaign is vital to the College community. She pointed out the importance of learning about themes students may not have previously had awareness of.

“I think William and Mary is not alone in that we have issues of sexual violence that happen on our campus,” Mosvick said. “Consent is something that unfortunately not all of the new members of our community are educated on before they join us here. 

“I think William and Mary is not alone in that we have issues of sexual violence that happen on our campus,” Mosvick said. “Consent is something that unfortunately not all of the new members of our community are educated on before they join us here. 

Stafford also commented on the programing that students could expect to see around campus during the campaign. 

“We’re doing a lot of tabling events and there will be a lot of social media promotion,” Stafford said. I’d recommend that people repost things, share them, come by our tables, and pick up the merch. In general, it’s really important to spread the messaging and start conversations.” 

Through the program, Mosvick hopes all students at the College will learn more about consent and know they are a part of its culture on campus. 

“The one thing that I want people to take away from this is that, if you’re part of the William and Mary community, you are part of a culture of consent, Mosvick said.