With files from Gurkamal Aujla
The Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education hosted Consent Week, their flagship event, online. Running from September 28 to October 2, the centre ran four different events which student could attend, including Yoga for Survivors of Sexual Violence; Certified Lover Boy: a workshop addressing masculinity, relationships and consent; A Matter of Consent: Understanding Consent and the Law; and the Consent Play.
The week began with Yoga for Survivors of Sexual Violence, a unique 45-minute yoga event led by organizer and movement-based practitioner Yamikani Msosa. Attendees were able to participate in hatha yoga exercises, described as “trauma-informed and healing-centred.”
Tuesday’s Certified Lover Boy event was hosted by Dr. Joseph Smith Jr, and was described as an event where participants would “address and confront the ways in which false and falsifying notions of masculinity impact and impede their abilities to form meaningful and authentic relationships.”
“Dr. Smith spoke a lot about how pop culture influences masculinity and influences how masculinity intermingles with how men navigate sexual violence and consent,” says Mark Subekti Tan, a second-year master’s student in the humanities, and coordinator of Consent Week.
On the third day of Consent Week, SHARE (Sexual Harassment and Resource Exchange) hosted, and was represented by three members of their team: Shagufta Sadique, Norah Dillon-Cheetham, and Penny Wiggins.
“There is no consent when there is an abuse of trust, power or authority, silence or the absence of ‘no,’ or coercion or threats.”
“We offer free and confidential legal advice. Individuals experiencing sexual harassment at work can make an informed decision about which steps, if any, they would like to take to address their experience,” said Dillon-Cheetham, regarding SHARE.
The team at SHARE made sure to thoroughly discuss the definition of consent, and what consent is not, in order to ensure students of the call had a clear understanding of the topic at hand. “Consent is a permission to do something, from a legal perspective,” stated Dillon-Cheetham.
“There is no consent when there is an abuse of trust, power or authority, silence or the absence of ‘no,’ or coercion or threats,” stated Wiggins. “Consent cannot be given if there is intoxication or unconsciousness, or if there is consenting on another person’s behalf. Consent can be withdrawn.”
The event also discussed criminal harassment, a topic that is significant in today’s day and age in the digital world. Their presentation also described various situations where non-consensual activities could take place.
Finally, the week wrapped up with a viewing of Consent Talks, a play screening viewing sex and consent through the lens of COVID-19.
“The purpose of the play is to ensure we are having conversations about the ways in which sexual violence manifests itself online during the pandemic,” Joanie Cameron-Pritchett, the Centre’s director of Community Support & Services, told yFile. “We hope to raise awareness about the different forms of sexual violence to ensure all incoming students are made aware of resources and supports available for them.”
Students who missed out on this week’s events will have the opportunity to attend future events and workshops hosted by the Centre. Moreover, they continue to provide support via phone and email.
“The Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education is the recommended first point of contact for survivors who have experienced sexual violence and will support all members of the York Community, including students, staff and faculty,” states their website.