A sunny Wednesday morning on Trinity College Dublin’s campus saw the launch of Student Counselling’s Together Consent Outreach Programme. Having facilitated workshops to students for 5 years, the educational programme is now launching a new website that gives students and staff access to information on sexual consent and misconduct.
Speakers at the event included the Acting Director of Student Counselling Trish Murphy, Research Assistant on Sexual Consent Education and Sexual Violence Prevention Aoife Grimes, TD and former Trinity lecturer, Ivana Bacik, Consent and Disclosure Counsellor Ruth McMahon, TCD Students’ Union President Leah Keogh and Trinity’s Senior Tutor Aidan Seery.
As was noted by several speakers, Trinity’s first consent workshop was given to a group of just seven students in Trinity Hall back in 2016. The project has since expanded to a college-wide programme that has reached hundreds within the Trinity community. Aside from classes specifically about sexual consent, the programme also offers by-stander intervention and disclosure response training. These aim to spread awareness about sexual assault and create a safer environment in Trinity.
As a part of the launch, the curricula for all of these classes will now be available to all Higher Education institutions in Ireland. This will enable other universities to use and build upon the work done by the programme over the past five years.
Furthermore, the new Trinity Consent website provides students and staff with information on getting involved with the programme, booking workshops, as well as what to do if they or someone they know have experienced sexual assault or misconduct. These information booklets were made together with Trinity’s Students Union as well as expert input in order to provide accurate and clear information.
TD Ivana Bacik praised the efforts of Murphy, Grimes and all involved. She noted how, over the past five years, sexual consent has become a mainstream topic not just in Trinity but worldwide, citing the scandal and incarceration of Harvey Weinstein as an example.
Another element of the Outreach Programme is a series of videos, animated by Keith Kavanagh and funded by Trinity Trust, that serve as introductions to the consent programme and its workshops. Voiced by Fiachra Liam Corkery and Carla Ryan, the videos present an exciting new way in which students can engage with the program and become more aware of sexual consent and misconduct.
Murphy also reminded the audience that alongside fighting sexual violence and assault, the programme also aims to help students have fun and pleasurable sexual experiences. The consent workshops provide a safe, respectful environment for both fun and serious discussions around consent and have been immensely successful within Trinity. The acronym FRIES – Freely given, Retractable, Informed, Enthusiastic and Specific – is a key element of the workshops and is well known to generations of Trinity Hall residents. Murphy pointed out that it can often be heard on Trinity- organised nights out.
The Together Consent Outreach Programme marks an exciting new step in raising awareness of consent in Higher Education and showcases the impressive achievements of the programme thus far.