Consent: Your Right and Responsibility
Monday, January 23, 2023
Written By: Tanya Jessica D’Souza
In 2022, Sexual Assault and Statistics Canada reported that one in four North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. This is a sobering reality as we begin Consent Week 2023, because it assumes a degree of certainty. Sexual assault, unwanted advances and rape are extremely prevalent in our world, so much so that it disguises itself as a normal part of your experience.
Consent Week 2023 – January 23 – 27
This Consent Week, which runs January 23 – 27, 2023, we urge you to reject a society where sexual violence towards others is normalized. Consent is not a privilege; it is not something that would be “nice to have.” It is your right. It is a fundamental part of your rightful dignity, respect and freedom.
As university students, we coexist in a statistically dangerous environment for sexual activity – one that threatens your safety with “mixed messages,” accusations of “leading someone on” or “teasing,” questions of saying no or “implying no.” Rejecting these normalized falsehoods takes immense courage. Standing up for yourself is not always easy, but it is necessary.
As UWaterloo Warriors, you can take pride in obtaining a keen understanding of what informed consent looks like. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), consent should be
“… clearly and freely communicated. A verbal and affirmative expression of consent can help both you and your partner to understand and respect each other’s boundaries. Consent cannot be given by individuals who are underage, intoxicated or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, or asleep or unconscious.”
It is important to note that hesitation, indecisiveness and silence are not synonymous with obtaining consent. RAINN uses an effective term to deconstruct illusions around consent.
“Enthusiastic Consent” suggests that individuals “look for a ‘yes’ rather than the absence of a ‘no.’”
At UWaterloo, we understand that bridging the gap between informed or enthusiastic consent and sexual activity is an uphill battle. The Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) dedicates considerable efforts to supporting students that might be dealing with trauma and deliver education, training, and awareness-raising initiatives that can make obtaining consent a priority.
WUSA Consent Week Booth in the SLC
Come by our booth in the great hall and leave a comment on the board about what #ConsentIs to you! Bonus: if you share an image of the booth and board on your socials and tag us, you can pick up a goodie bag with some treats at The Women’s Centre – we’ll be here all week!
Sexual Violence Prevention Office and Consent Culture
The SVPRO has many upcoming events that serves as a great opportunity for campus community members to engage in conversations, activities, and events that help build a #ConsentCulture. These include:
Monday, January 23
DC Foyer, 10-3PM
Active Bystander Intervention Training for all Engineering Students
E7 4417, 5-8PM
Wednesday, January 25
Sexual Communication with SASC
Virtual Workshop, 5-7PM
You can visit the SVPRO events page for a full breakdown of Consent Week activities and events.
The Women’s Centre
Other sources of support include the Women’s Centre, where you can find a safe space for open discussions with an intersectional lens. They can help connect you with resources about sexual health, healthy relationships, mental health, contraceptive methods, and more.
For Consent Week, the Women’s Centre is holding a Tea Talk on January 25 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. They will also feature an interactive consent board up throughout the week in the Student Life Centre marketplace.
University of Waterloo Sexual Violence Task Force
We are also proud to feature a dedicated University of Waterloo Sexual Violence Task Force, in response to the provincial plan It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment, formed in March 2015. The goals of the task force are to create a campus culture where the impacts of sexual violence are understood and well responded to, and to create a campus culture where strong efforts are made to prevent sexual violence.