NUI Galway has launched a new toolkit offering guidance to higher education institutions in developing an active plan on consent, sexual violence and harassment, as well as addressing consent education through a sustainable and joined up strategy across each campus community.
Launched virtually on Monday by Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris, the Active Consent Toolkit provides resources and research from NUI Galway’s new online Active* Consent Programme designed to meet the call for consent education for all students in 2020-2021 and is aimed at higher education staff and administrators; student representatives working with their students’ unions, societies and sports clubs; and the wider community.
Dr Padraig MacNeela, Active* Consent Programme co-lead, NUI Galway, said: “Our latest research shows that teenagers in schools and young adults in colleges strongly support the idea that consent means having the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and having their partners hear and respect these preferences. But the research also shows that the confidence to act on this understanding can be undermined by embarrassment and shame, including misperceptions of what your peers actually think.
“There is also now evidence to show that a number of young people either agree with or do not actively reject misinformed and potentially harmful rape myths.”
Minister Simon Harris, said: “The Sexual Experiences Survey clearly shows us there is so much work to be done. We have to do more to raise awareness and support students, and the Active* Consent Toolkit will greatly assist institutions in a really practical way.
“I want to see all of our higher education institutions further embed the consent framework into their policies and procedures so as to ensure a deep and lasting impact. All institutions have now been asked to develop and publish, by February next, specific institutional action plans on tackling sexual violence and harassment and provide an annual report on their progress in implementing the framework.
“I believe the higher education sector [needs] to take on a leadership role in our societal response to sexual violence and harassment, and these are important steps forward to advance that aim.”
President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said; “Respect for our students and staff is one of our university’s core values which we take very seriously. Education and support around the subject of consent for our student community is a critical learning component that should be made available to everyone during their university journey. Supporting the safety, health and wellbeing of our students and staff is our top priority.”
As part of the toolkit, Active* Consent is also launching an eLearning module, Sexual Violence and Harassment: How to Support Yourself and Your Peers, available for use from October 15.
This Active* Consent eLearning module helps to close gaps in students’ understanding of sexual violence and harassment as reported in the ‘Sexual Experiences Survey’, including the legal definition of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, and how to access support services.