One Student founders encourage a ‘culture of consent’

Maddie Liotta, Staff Writer

After surviving sexual assault, Kelly Addington joined with Becca Tieder to found a non-profit organization called One Student to provide resources, programs, and opportunities for students to create social change to stop sexual violence. On Oct. 17 students and faculty gathered in the Weis Center to hear Addington and Tieder discuss the concept of consent in sexual encounters.

The two began the talk by saying, “If we’re going to create a culture of consent here, we have to be able to openly discuss sex.” They highlighted a disturbing statistic: sexual assault happens every two minutes.

In order to fully educate the audience, Addington and Tieder also defined the words sexual assault, rape, and consent.

The pair defined sexual assault as “any unwanted sexual contact, such as touching, groping, or kissing. It doesn’t have to involve sexual intercourse.”  They defined rape as “sexual contact that involves penetration of some kind.”  Finally, they defined consent as an “intelligent, knowing, voluntary agreement.”

They went on to highlight the different criteria of consent: all parties must be sober, not incapacitated, want to be with the other person(s) present and be able to actively affirm that desire through words or actions. Communication must be present at each step of the process.

“Consent is black or white —you either have it or you don’t,” Addington said.

University Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator Rachel Stewart noted how the One Student speakers’ definition of consent differed slightly from the University’s definition because the latter makes a distinction between incapacitation and intoxication.

Because consent must be knowing and voluntary, if an individual is unable, by virtue of substances they have consumed, or any other mental or physical condition, to make a knowing and deliberate choice, they are considered incapacitated and therefore are unable to consent. Under our policy, this is not necessarily the same as an individual being intoxicated,” Stewart said. 

In order to create a culture of consent on campus, students must “address gender issues, become sexually empowered, and myth-bust,” according to Tieder. Students must also actively combat the presence of sexual violence by getting informed about rape culture on campus, educating themselves about the general issue in order to inform their peers, and developing innovative solutions.

“No one deserves to be sexually assaulted, and you must stand up as a community and say that you will not let that happen here on campus,” Addington said. 

After the main discussion, there was a debriefing session that focused on issues such as normalizing consent on campus and helping a close friend who has been sexually assaulted.

When asked about the event, Alex Christensen ’18 said, “In my personal opinion, I think it enforced [the] gender binary. But for the audience, I believe it was a very comprehensive look at rape culture. A lot of people left during the 10 minute intermission, which I think is a reinforcement of complacency about these issues on our campus. At least people heard the talk, which is a step closer to normalizing consent.”

Some students had a more optimistic view, including Maggie Fischer ’19 who said, “I thought the program was one of the most effective programs [the University] has had on campus. I wish more students had been there to be a part of it. I think it was a great mix of humor and blunt honesty, and created a really open space for conversation on campus. I look forward to seeing how the conversation this program started is continued on campus.”

Lindsey Reist ’18 echoed this sentiment, saying,“I thought Kelly and Becca did a really great job connecting with us and making their talk relatable without even having to try. They were naturally funny and interesting to listen to, and their story is inspiring. I think having them here was really beneficial.”

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