Behind Closed Doors: Milk, Cookies and Consent

I am interrupting our usual biweekly banter about silly sex stories to bring you a more serious topic.

As much as new students may not want to admit it, orientation is full of valuable information that far surpasses just showing the newest members of the Tribe where their classes will be located. And, as an Orientation Aide, I had the opportunity — some would say the privilege — to sit in on these many informative sessions. Amongst the talks of community and policy, one particular session stood out to me. It was the community values session which focused on Tribe Choices. When it comes to engaging in the orgasmic, gratifying, toe-curling sex that Eric Garrison, the Assistant Director of Health and Wellness, raves about, the most important part is understanding the meaning of consent.

A quick Google search defines consent as “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.” When you apply that term to sexual and romantic encounters, knowing exactly what constitutes consent can be difficult to grasp. Consent is not flirtatious body language and consent is not the absence of a “no.” Consent is always an affirmative “yes.” And when there’s alcohol involved, consent can no longer be given because one’s judgement is impaired.

The orientation session took on the challenge of explaining consent in a way that could make sense to even the most confused individuals. So, instead of going over policies on a dull power point, they talked about milk and cookies. Because if you’ve got a freshly baked batch of cookies and a tall cool pitcher of milk, you’d only share them with a person who also wanted them. It’s not okay to force anyone to eat milk and cookies, no matter the situation. If someone wants milk but no cookies, that’s totally okay too. You can find a compromise and just share a glass of milk instead. If someone changes their mind after having a bite of a cookie, you shouldn’t make them finish it. And last, but certainly not least, if someone is at all incapacitated, you shouldn’t be giving them milk and cookies in the first place.

I know that milk and cookies can appear as a trivialized way to present such an important topic, but here’s the thing: if consent wasn’t a difficult subject for some to grasp, it wouldn’t be taught and re-explained time after time. If it helps make sure every single student on this campus understands consent, I will scream about milk and cookies until the cows come home.

>When people talk about making Tribe choices on this campus, it’s usually a laughing remark we make as we head out to parties and bars on the weekends. But when you actually get to the point, making a Tribe choice is incredibly important. Tribe choices are about taking care of yourself, as well as understanding that your actions affect the others.

Being a part of the College of William and Mary means being a part of a community, whether or not you intended to when you paid your deposit and moved yourself onto to campus in the last week. And while I would love to believe that our beautiful college is immune to the trials and atrocities seen at other college campuses around the nation, we all know that’s not true. Title IX serves as a prime example of how we’ve tried to create a safe space on campus but have fallen incredibly short.

If we want to help the College be the home we want it to be for everyone, it starts with speaking out far before we are spoken to. It’s about making a stand against sexual assault, and intervening when you know something is wrong. It’s about showing support without any sense of blame. It’s about milk and cookies and making Tribe choices.

Mallory W. is a Behind Closed Doors columnist who will let you know if she wants your cookies.


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