GSA hosts event focused on understanding consent

Lori Mundell, Staff Reporter

The importance and understanding of consent was the main topic of conversation at the consent panel on Monday, April 18.

The event was hosted by the Gay Straight Alliance as part of IU Southeast’s Pride Month, and took place in Crestview Hall room 202.

A panel of speakers each presented different facets of consent and the conversation surrounding it. Veronica Medina, assistant professor of sociology, spoke about why it is important to start teaching children about consent as soon as they are born.

Medina said that consent is not just about sex, and children’s understanding of consent in any interpersonal relationship is important to changing our society in the future. She said teaching children about consent is crucial to changing our culture from a “rape culture” to a “respect culture.”

“When we set a foundation of teaching consent early on, we raise healthy, empowered individuals who are able to make decisions not just in sexual relationships and in sexual activity, but in all realms of social life,” Medina said.

Vice chancellor Jason Meriwether also spoke about the importance consent has to him as a parent and as a campus leader. He spoke about his experiences dealing with campus assaults over the years and what he learned about consent from those experiences.

“The lesson learned for me is that we have to protect the notion of consent for every individual across sexual orientations and across race,” Meriwether said.

Angelica Wiseman from the Center for Women and Families also spoke about the importance of consent. Wiseman talked about the importance of knowing boundaries and the difference between consent and coercion. She said that consent should be about “may I?” and “can I?” questions and not questions that make people feel pressured to answer in a way they might not feel comfortable with.

Audra Dowling, assistant director of resident life, spoke specifically about consent and it’s importance on IU Southeast’s campus. Dowling said she hopes to begin the consent conversation on campus more in the future so all students who need to hear it can.

Dowling also spoke about the resources available on campus to students who have been assaulted or feel uncomfortable in any situation. She said IU Southeast is currently trying to raise awareness for their #IUSStrong campaign that promotes sexual assault and sexual misconduct awareness. Dowling said the campus encourages as many people as possible to wear and #IUSstrong bracelet to promote the campaign and continue to raise awareness.

Two other students also spoke about consent topics that they said are important for many people to understand. Ryan Malone spoke about personal space and understanding what is appropriate behavior in certain situations and with certain people. He used the personal space chart to highlight his points. Michael Gardner, business junior, spoke about consent in BDSM relationships and being open and honest with your sexual partners, so that clear boundaries and limitations are set.

Gardner also spoke about his work with the Derby City Sisters and their long-standing work in promoting safe and consensual sex.