Sexual consent at Oxford Brookes University

24 June 2021

The words Sexual Consent Project are written white against a gradient backgroud which moved from dark purple to light purple and back to dark purple from left to right

Dr Rachel Payne, Principal Lecturer Student Experience and lead for the Sexual Consent Project writes:

Everyone at Oxford Brookes deserves to be treated equitably and respectfully, to be heard and valued, and to have access to accurate information so that you can make choices that are right for you. We know this isn’t always straightforward, especially when considering issues of consent. This is why staff and students across the University are designing a sexual consent education programme over the next four years which will support everyone to engage with the complexities of consent. Together we are striving for a safe and respectful campus for all.

We have been working on the project throughout 2020-21 and our initial priority is to establish an online resource addressing the complexities of sexual consent. To achieve this we have partnered with leading UK sexual health charity Brook Young People.

“Being a young person can be tough. Through our innovative clinical services, digital support, tailored counselling and inspiring relationships and sex education, young people are able to take charge of their sexual health and wellbeing” [Brook mission statement].

From September 2021 students will have access to five interactive online modules which consider the meaning of consent; myths and the law; ambiguities of consent including active and passive consent, and verbal and non-verbal communication of consent. Advice, support and reporting systems within the University, regionally and nationally will also be highlighted.

Brook sexual consent modules were trialled this year by students studying at all levels, from foundation to postgraduate study, and by a small group of staff. Their recommendations have influenced our focus for 2021-22. For example, we aim to expand the content from the modules into a podcast series exploring students’ cultural and intersectional experiences of sexual consent; positions of trust between staff and students; and toxic masculinity. We aim to develop by-stander training and design a fresher’s week programme for September 2022.

Whilst the modules are designed for students they will also be accessible to staff, and will be particularly useful for Academic Advisors and those who work closely with students. In this way staff can better support students who are affected by sexual violence. Staff training is also included in the project and in the coming months we will establish a programme for staff development.

Updates on the project will be available regularly and if you are interested in the project, look out for calls to participate via Student News emails and other University communications. All are welcome.

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