The Administration of Consent: An Exploration of How Consent Education is Understood and Implemented at a Small Private University
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In recent years, sexual consent has become a central element in both the prevention and the resolution of sexual assault on American college campuses. Due to these developments, sexual consent has become a catchall term that appears in multiple programs from freshman orientations to student organization events, from human resources meetings to sexual assault investigations. While the word is omnipresent, its meaning remains ambiguous to many. To understand the root of this ambiguity, we use qualitative interviews and observations to investigate how administrators, educators, and staff of a small private university understand and implement consent education. From our analysis, we find that administrators, faculty and staff hold a great deal of influence in shaping the culture of consent. However, in the process of translating concept into practice, this influence, far from delivering a coherent and well-developed educational platform, splinters into a multiplicity of often contradictory messages. Ultimately, this leaves students and the community at large to draw from individual pre-existing understandings of gender and sexuality to form their own definitions or seek answers from campus community members who are trusted or aligned in worldviews.
KeywordsSexual consent education Gender and sexuality Higher education College students
This project was funded in part by an internal university grant.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
There are no conflicts of interest associated with this work.
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