In just over a month, a new class of college freshman will start a new chapter of their lives. For many, this will be the first real opportunity to live away from home, and adult expectations will likely be thrust upon them. This includes the responsibility of making good decisions about sex and consent.
On some college campuses, administrators have even gone so far as to require new students to take classes on consent. This post will highlight one school’s efforts and answer the question of whether other schools should follow. To that end, colleges and student groups have initiated discussions and distributed literature about the signs of and importance of mutual consent.
Incoming students at the University of Southern California (USC) must complete an online course as part of the school’s Title IX training before registering for classes. The course covers different, yet protective ways, to ask a person if they are interested in having sex. More importantly, it teaches students how to recognize signs of consent if verbal consent is not given. It also details physical cues of non-consent, such as a person crossing their arms or legs, not responding to verbal questions.
So while administrators have good intentions with these classes, should they actually be required? Some students may not be comfortable taking them; especially if they are asked to be detailed about their sexual histories. After all, some may be just learning about themselves and may not feel like it is appropriate to condition enrollment on taking such a class. (USC has since retracted this requirement).
Nevertheless, the question of consent is important enough that such classes, while uncomfortable, may be helpful in avoiding potential criminal charges or school discipline.