Amidst a sea of brown t-shirts sporting the perennial catchphrase “Consensual Sex is Hot” in bold face and green letters, Dartmouth’s Sexual Abuse Peer Advisors hosted the fifth annual Consent Day this past Friday afternoon on Massachusetts Row.
Organizers used the popularity of the t-shirt to help promote the ideals of Consent Day — students received shirts only after signing a short pledge about consent.
“The pledge is a commitment that people are making to get consent to sexual activities as well as to educate people about the shirt,” Leah Prescott, Sexual Abuse Awareness Program coordinator said.
Much more than an apparel giveaway, Consent Day featured a number of performance groups including the Summerphonics, Dog Day Players and Soul Scribes.
Booths set up from a variety of campus groups from the Native Americans at Dartmouth, to the AIDS Workcrew, to representatives from Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The vendors provided students with information, games, free food, and give aways including condoms and buttons decorated with phrases relating to the theme of consent.
The vast spectrum of organizations that participated in and sponsored the event helped to make it larger than any of the past years, according to the summer SAPA intern, Maria Castilla ’09.
Castilla also said that such a turnout reflects the fact that sexual assault and consent are both issues that affect all of campus.
“I hope that everyone looks on the back of the t-shirts to see just how diverse the organizations who helped sponsor the event are, and realize that the cause is one that concerns us all and not just certain groups,” she said.
The concept of consent is often given a negative connotation the event was meant to demonstrate to students that consent can take many forms, Prescott said.
“I hope that students would gain more tools and language around giving and getting consent, because I think that there is a pretty huge stigma attached to good sex being silent sex,” she said. “I hope that students will be able to find multiple ways to be able to get clear consent before sexual activity.”
SAPAs sponsor at least one event on-campus each term, and Consent Day plays that role each summer term. Hosting the event for only one class makes it more feasible, in addition to providing each class with a distinct wearable souvenir from the summer.”[Hosting the event in the summer] makes each event and shirt special and particular to a class, so the ’09 class shirts are brown and green, whereas the ’08 shirts were blue and white and the ’07 shirts were orange and white,” Castilla said.
A smaller target audience is also easier to reach, according to Prescott.
“It is much easier to get fewer students attracted to as well as excited about an issue that is so sensitive in nature that it is easier to do it in the summer and you can focus on one class at a time,” she said.
Not only were more groups and sponsors involved this year, but turnout increased as well, according to Castilla.
“I think the event was extremely successful,” she said. “We ordered the 610 shirts we’ve ordered in the past and usually we have several left over but this year we were out of shirts within the first hour of the event, which is amazing.”
Prescott said that she hoped the event would help students understand and appreciate the larger issues of sexual activity.
“I hope that students will clearly connect the funness and spiritness [of Consent Day] to the issues that have to do with dating and sexual violence and how that fits in with the cycles of oppression,” she said.