Consent Fair kicks off semester-long campaign to combat sexual assault

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On Wednesday, Sept. 10, Guilford College students kicked off this year’s Consent Campaign with a kiss, some much-needed education and a whole lot of free t-shirts.

“(The Consent is Sexy campaign kickoff fair is about) putting less focus on victim blaming and more on treating consent as a positive communication between people who want to be intimate,” said Kristie Wyatt ‘08, wellness education coordinator and and community directorfor Shore Hall, English Hall and Pope House, to students gathered on the patio of Founders Hall as the fair began.

Students had the opportunity to participate in activities ranging from painting each other with body paint after asking for consent to putting lipstick on, puckering up and kissing a poster which read “I love consent.”

No matter the activity, the focus remained on the importance of consent.

“The activities they had there were very creative and informative,” said sophomore Zi Huang. “Especially the kissing booth, which was actually just Hershey’s Kisses. People would ask, ‘Mind if I give you a kiss?’”

Crowds of students made their way to the fair, drawn in by the music, courtesy of WQFS, free ice cream, free merchandise.

“I’m grateful that I go to a school that really promotes the importance of consent, getting awareness out and making it fun, too,” said senior Elizabeth Croce.

However, Croce also noted that some students were only in it for the free things.

“Consent is not a limited concept, it applies to everyone in every situation,” said sophomore Molly Anne Marcotte, a peer health and wellness educator, intern for the wellness education coordinator, and organizer of the fair. “This is about keeping our campus safe, and also embracing the joy of consent, so ideally, we would have everyone attend.”

According to Wyatt, several hundred students attended. Within the first hour, 200 “Consent is Sexy” t-shirts had been given out.

Though it cannot be denied that the fair was popular, many students were confused by the lighthearted take on consent.

“It was interesting,” said first-year Sebastian Krüger. “Some of the stations were just silly. So in a way, that portrayed it in a funnier way than it was supposed to be since it’s such a serious topic. But all in all, I think it was a nice, funny way to represent their ideals.”

Olivia Chalkley,  sophomore and vice president of Sexual Assault Awareness Support and Advocacy, represented the group with a table at the fair. However, SAASA is no longer directly involved with the campaign, and Chalkley was bothered by the campaign’s strategy for spreading awareness.

“I don’t want people to think of it in terms of ‘Consent is Sexy,’” said Chalkley. “I think it’s ridiculous. Asking for consent doesn’t mean that you’re going to get a yes.

“That’s the whole point of it. But that’s kind of the implication behind a lot of this campaign.”

Many of the activities have more of a focus on catching students’ attention than on informing them about the complexities of consent. However, that focus is intentional. Wyatt wants as many students as possible to find out about the Consent Campaign so they will become interested in learning more.

“I do think they try to use language that will attract people who are college-aged,” said senior and CAAP treasurer Khadija Carr, who sat at the CAAP table during the fair. “I know people have (had) their issues with the slogan, but it’s how we educate that has the biggest impact.”

Now that the kickoff event has sparked students’ interest, students can continue to attend the engaging and informative activities hosted by the Consent Campaign throughout the semester.

Advertisements for these events will be spread across the campus, and knowing this campaign they will be hard to miss.