Campuses across Indiana have indicated that consent is one of the contributing factors to sexual violence, and Purdue’s Student Wellness Office is working to deal with this issue.
The Indiana Campus Sexual Assault Primary Prevention Project (INCSAPP) is a state-wide program funded by the Indiana State Department of Health through a Center for Disease Control rape prevention education grant. Its goal is to increase the capacity of Indiana colleges to prevent initial occurrences of sexual violence. This year, INCSAPP has provided technical assistance to more than ten campuses across the state, including Purdue, and seven of those found consent before sex to be a problem.
“Like Purdue students, Indiana students communicated in focus groups that they don't obtain consent before having sex and are not aware what consent is and is not,” said Emily Haas, project coordinator for INCSAPP. “Specifically, we continually heard students say that they were too embarrassed to ask for consent.”
According to Haas, consent needs to be a sober, verbal “yes.”
“It is important to not ‘read into’ signals, such as flirting, that you may perceive to be consent,” Haas said. “There is not room for interpretation when it comes to sexual consent. Always ask.”
With the $2,500 grant Purdue received through INCSAPP, the Student Wellness Office has created a social marketing campaign to increase awareness of sexual violence.
Katie Wilkinson, sexual health education coordinator for the Purdue Student Wellness Office, said the slogan “Flirting is not consent. Ask everyone, every time” was decided upon by focus groups made of students. The grant money went toward forming focus groups, putting out products and advertising with posters in buildings and on buses.
Wilkinson said the most difficult part of consent is that people don’t know how to bring up the subject.
“It’s hard to ask, ‘Do you want to have sex?’ but there’s no easy way around it,” Wilkinson said. “We want students to be talking more about this and to respect each other.”
In December, INCSAPP and the Student Wellness Office will assess the effectiveness of the marketing program through a series of surveys and focus groups.
If a student has been sexually assaulted, they can seek help at any of the following (according to information taken from the Student Wellness Office)
-Purdue Student Health Center Urgent Care
-Lafayette Emergency Rooms
-Counseling and Advocacy Services
-Purdue Office of the Dean of Students
-Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
-Lafayette Crisis Center