Consent with Caitlin: A look into Butler’s consent workshop

Graphic courtesy of Planned Parenthood.

CAITLIN SEGRAVES | STAFF REPORTER | csegrave@butler.edu

Content warning: References to sexual violence are included in this article. 

Remember the days when you could go to parties, flirt with someone all night, just for it to go… nowhere?

Maybe you spent the night chatting them up, hoping it could lead to exchanging Snapchats or heading to a bedroom, but at the end of the night, they just weren’t into you. I hope for their sake, it ended there. You respected their decision to let you know that it just isn’t going anywhere. 

But for too many people, that decision is not respected. Many individuals find themselves feeling violated, emotionally and/or physically. The Sexual Assault Response and Prevention office at Butler and specialist Jules Arthur-Grable work to create a culture on campus that recognizes how important it is for students to know their right to ask for and withhold consent. 

Thus, a workshop on consent basics is mandatory for all incoming students during first year orientation. The workshop consists of three parts: how language affects our view on consent, what consent actually is and Butler’s expectation for consent. 

Arthur-Grable hits it right on the nose when discussing the workshop, going in depth about how the society we live in influences our conversations, and lack thereof, of consent. She even used a quote from one of Gen-Z’s favorite movies, “Mean Girls,” to drive her point home. 

“We currently live in a society where we don’t really talk about sex, or we don’t really give instruction on how to talk with our partner how to have healthy communication when it comes to sex. And sex education is basically either STDs, ‘this is the miracle of birth,’ and ‘don’t have sex, you will get pregnant and die,’” Arthur-Grable said. 

Arthur-Grable is right. American education has consistently lacked comprehensive sex education and it has taken a toll on American people. Personally, my high school turned sex education into a lecture about how sex leads to pregnancy and sadness. It completely lacked in sexual assault and safe sex education. Not very inclusive or realistic, in my opinion. 

“One in three women, one in six men, and one in two transgender individuals are affected by sexual violence,” Arthur-Grable said. 

Let that sink in. Statistically, you probably know at least one person who has faced sexual violence in their life. That all boils down to consent and the lack of discussion around it. 

I talked with senior political science major Caroline Lettrich, a student facilitator of Butler’s consent workshop, and we discussed the workshop and the culture on campus. In her view, the workshop can offer information that survivors may need to hear.

“A lot of survivors figured out that they are survivors because they didn’t know what consent was,” Lettrich said. 

There are also so many different varieties of sexual assault under the larger umbrella term of “sexual misconduct” that many may not consider it to be assault or misconduct because they don’t properly understand what consent is supposed to mean. 

The definition of consent that Butler uses has the helpful acronym of FRIES. Consent should be freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic and specific. On top of all of that, it can be sexy.

“Consent doesn’t have to break the mood,” Arthur-Grables said. “In fact, it improves it. You know, what really breaks the mood? Sexual assault.”

First year communication sciences and disorders major Maddie Darr discussed her experience with the Butler’s consent workshop. She noted how much she appreciated the workshop.

“She had us break off into small groups … to order dinner. And so my group decided we’re going to order a pizza, everyone agreed on it, and it was just an everyday thing people would do. But then when we got back into the main group, she talked about how like, it was an example of how we didn’t do anything or go any farther until everyone agreed and everyone was on the same page and everyone was okay with it. So I thought that was like a really good way to show what consent is even like in a smaller form,” Darr said.

Consent is not a crazy concept; it’s already an established concept in our lives, and we know how to navigate it. 

I’m hoping to help you with navigating consent. This will be a new, recurring column with The Butler Collegian that will focus on discussing the many, many different aspects of consent and sexual misconduct. I want to spark conversation about consent and answer your questions about the “grey” situations. Whether this is a past issue or recurring incident, please feel free to reach out to the SARP office or submit your questions to me — and I’ll work with the office to answer it properly! Consent is a great tool that we already use in our everyday lives — we just need to improve it in the bedroom.

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