NUI Galway Active Consent and the Union of Students of Ireland have teamed up for a nationwide survey on students sexual experiences.
The Sexual Experiences Survey is a key part of the Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) campaign running until February 14.
It is designed to gain an insight on students’ experiences of sexual violence, attitudes towards consent, and perceptions of HEI supports and responses to sexual misconduct.
The survey will be carried out on the campuses of all higher education institutes associated with the USI, and its results will be published in a report later this year.
Dr Pádraig MacNeela of NUIG, head of the Active Consent programme, is leading the implementation of the survey, saying that sexual violence and harassment can only be tackled by everyone working together.
“Each of us brings important strengths, and through collaboration with third level colleges we aim to get a full picture of positive and negative student experiences.”
“Once we know that information we can use it to help target sexual health education and supports”.
During the SHAG campaign this week the USI will be distributing 30,000 ‘SHAG Packs’ and providing information on sexual health to students.
The theme of this year’s campaign is sexual empowerment, and USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick says it’s important to promote positive attitudes towards sex and raise awareness of sexual health.
“In Ireland, talking about sex can still be considered a taboo subject and USI believes it is important to break through these barriers and encourage people to practice safer sex and to look after their sexual health.”
In Ireland, people don’t receive adequate education about sex and relationships before coming to college, she said.
Lorna added that the USI continues to lobby for a more inclusive and evidence-based RSE programme for primary and secondary schools to prepare young people.
“This campaign allows us to directly reach 30,000 students with information about masturbation, consent, abortion information and sexual transmitted infections.”
Dr Lorraine Burke, who is leading the sexual experiences survey from NUIG, said that the information it provides will help support goals identified in the Department of Education’s Consent Framework.
“The Sexual Experiences Survey will make sure we get comprehensive, up to date information on our students’ awareness of services, the prevalence of negative experiences, and the positive role of students in supporting a culture of respect”.