Thursday 20 October 2016

'Sexual-consent classes badly needed in university'


Student Megan Nolan
Student Megan Nolan

A rape victim and former TCD student has said the introduction of mandatory sexual consent workshops are the "bare minimum" needed to address an "enormous problem".

In a landmark decision, the university has decided new undergraduates living in fresher accommodation at Trinity Hall in Rathmines will be expected to attend the workshops.

From September, students will partake in classes modelled on "compulsory consent courses", currently in place for first-year students at Oxford and Cambridge universities.

The content of the workshops has yet to be decided, but they will be promoted as "mandatory" by TCD.

If the classes prove successful, it could lead to a campus-wide course being implemented.

Megan Nolan was an 18-year-old student at Trinity when she was raped.

A sea-change in attitudes among students about what constitutes sexual consent is needed, she said.

She stressed this kind of compulsory instruction should be the beginning of a "radical refusal of male violence".

"Consent lessons are the bare minimum attempt to address an enormous problem which shames us all.

"I discovered, years after my own assault, that I knew several other women who had endured the exact same particular circumstances I had," Megan said.


"Would our attackers have been deterred by consent lessons? There is a chance, a not insubstantial one, that a pervasive and commonly-expressed disgust for such acts would cause a potential rapist to fear social consequences.

"There is a chance that if such a culture existed, I would have immediately reported my rape and felt no shame about the fact I had been drinking.

"As it was, I kept it secret for an unfeasibly long time, by which point my mental health had deteriorated to the extent I hadn't seen a pre-3pm sky for six months and had long since dropped out."

Shane Rice, head of the JCR, the student committee which supports over 1,000 students at Trinity Hall, said: "We need to start a conversation about what really constitutes the concept of consent."

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