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Minister Harris launching NUIG developed Active Consent Toolkit for consent education

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris is today launching the Active Consent Toolkit, developed at NUIG, which will be rolled out at colleges and universities around the country to improve students understanding of sexual violence, harassment, and consent.

This toolkit, developed by the Active Consent programme at NUIG, helps higher education institutes develop an Action Plan on consent, sexual violence and harassment.

It also address consent education on campus, and provides practical resources and research for colleges to create their own plan to address the issue.

The Toolkit has been developed by Active Consent based on the finding of the ‘Sexual Experiences Survey’ released in June 2020.

Minister Harris said that the results of this survey show that there is much work to be done about educating people on consent.

“We have to do more to raise awareness and support students, and the Active Consent Toolkit will greatly assist institutions in a really practical way.

“I want to see all of our higher education institutions further embed the Consent Framework into their policies and procedures so as to ensure a deep and lasting impact.

“All institutions have now been asked to develop and publish, by February next, specific institutional action plans on tackling sexual violence and harassment and provide an annual report on their progress in implementing the Framework.”

This complex picture of consent is demonstrated by findings from NUI Galway’s ‘Sexual Experiences Survey’ last June that have not been released before that include:

  • 37% of female college students and 53% of male college students gave a ‘neutral’ or ‘agree’ response when asked whether asking for consent is awkward.
  • 63% of female college students and 37% of male college students said they were ‘very likely’ to say something to intervene if a friend was taking a drunk person back to their room at a party.
  • 26% of female college students and 51% of male college students gave a ‘neutral’ or ‘agree’ response to the rape myth that, if a girl initiates kissing or hooking up, she should not be surprised if a guy assumes she wants to have sex.

Dr Padraig MacNeela, Co-Lead of the Active Consent Programme at NUIG said “Schools and colleges are important settings for education on positive, active consent that in turn works against tolerance of sexual violence and harassment.”

The Framework that has been developed for this toolkit is one of the “best strategies available” to help the Higher Education sector meet this challenge, and fulfil their potential she added.

Taking into account the impact of Covid-19, the Toolkit features a three stage programme for the 2020-21 academic year, all of which can be delivered online.

The first part of this programme, an online workshop, will be rolled out in 22 HEIs this Autumn for first year students.

An eLearning module, Sexual Violence and Harassment: How to Support Yourself and Your Peers, will also available for use from 15, October 2020.

Dr MacNeela said “By providing supports like the Consent Toolkit, we are asking our colleges to embrace change on all levels.

“To work together to meet the needs of those affected by sexual violence and harassment, and to promote a culture of positive, active consent consistent with healthy development.”

To receive a toolkit please email activeconsent@nuigalway.ie and for further information about the programme, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/student-life/student-support/active-consent/ or on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/activeconsent/

Briain Kelly
Email: news@galwaydaily.com
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