PHE informs student body on nuanced nature of consent

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Peer Health Education (PHE) hosted its program, “50 Shades of Consent,” on Wednesday, Feb. 14.

PHE’s Sexual Assault Prevention Team (SAPT) organized the event to educate students about consent.

For the program, members of SAPT passed out free candy and asked students to sign a contract. Many students took the candy and signed the paper without reading it, but later learned that the contract required them to do 100 push-ups a day for life. After SAPT members explained the push-up requirement, many students wanted to take back their decision.

SAPT member Rebecca Bowen explained how the program related to consent.

“We explained to each student that consent is retractable, and that someone can say no to sex at any time,” Bowen said. “We also talked about how a person cannot just make someone sign a contract and forgo their right to consent. We didn’t actually make anyone do the push-ups, because they have a right to say no.”

The program was inspired by the Valentine’s Day release of the new movie “50 Shades Freed.” In the “50 Shades” series, Anastasia Steele signs a contract with Christian Grey in which she forgoes her right to consent.

“SAPT decided to have this program because we wanted to educate people about how signing a contract, or any legal document, doesn’t make it OK for another person to have sex with the person who signed the contract,” Bowen said. “We wanted to raise awareness that every person always has the right to say no even if at one point that person agreed and said yes.”

Bowen hopes that the program will raise awareness about sexual assault and educate students about available on-campus resources.

“This program is important because it educates people about consent and teaches people ways to be proactive against sexual assault,” Bowen said. “Especially with things happening at other schools, like MSU, we want SVSU students to know what their rights are, and that they have resources like Student Wellness Programs, the Counseling Center and Campus Police for help and support.”

Bowen stressed that the stigma surrounding sexual assault shouldn’t prevent people from seeking help if they need it.

“I know that things such as sexual assault and domestic violence are sensitive subjects for many people,” Bowen said, “but SVSU students should know that if they need help or support in anything, there are people here to help, no one is alone.”

Several SVSU students were in attendance, including third-year business student Jack Koehn.

“I knew that the ’50 Shades’ movies were unrealistic and shouldn’t be a model for a healthy adult relationship,” Koehn said. “I didn’t know before (this event) just how non-consensual it was, though.”

Third-year accounting student Johnathan Bartosiewicz agreed.

“This was a good event for college students to go to,” Bartosiewicz said. “I learned a lot about respecting women.”

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