Consent: it’s a mutual agreement

“I’ve always felt that alcohol is made too accessible to college students,” was the initial comment Jonathan Moore gave when asked what he thought of the recent Consent & Respect Sexual Awareness online training course.

Speaking with Cyrenthia Jordan, Director of Equal Opportunity and Title IX, she said Minnesota and Illinois are among the first states to require the sexual awareness course completion within the first ten days of the semester.

“The sexual assault training course and violence prevention became effective on August 1st of 2016, as a state mandate,” Jordan said.

When questioned about who is required to complete the course, Jordan said, “All students of public and private colleges and universities.” She added that a few high schools were also voluntarily conducting the training.

“Any enrolled student, if you have one or more courses that you’re enrolled in at MNSU Mankato, you must take the course. Last year it was for first year students only, this year it’s mandatory for all students,” Jordan said.

“I think it’s important that if we have to take the Alcohol Wise testing that we should take the Consent one too because they both go hand in hand, and it’s important to be aware of it,” said Emily Flaherty, a freshmen waiting for her class to begin.

Reviewing the April 2016 publication of the MNSU Mankato Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, specifically pages 15 and 16, students that were interviewed were taken aback with the statistics.

“Crazy; most of the sexual assaults reported happened on campus!” said one student, who requested to remain anonymous.

The crime statistics on those pages identified three sex offenses of forcible rape in the year 2014 occurring in the “On-Campus Property/On-Campus Student Housing Facilities” category. Five for the year 2013 and four for the 2012 year.

“I’m not a big drinker, and the people I surround myself with aren’t drinkers either,” shared Kinsey Fitzloff, a senior on campus.

“I don’t even like to go out anymore because I know that’s what a lot of people’s mentality is. Their main goal is to take someone home, and I can’t comfortably get tipsy because I know that when someone sees that, they’re going to be like, ‘That’s a target.’ Before, they didn’t want to talk to me and now that I’m getting drunk they want to come and talk to me, and that makes me uncomfortable to go out and drink and have fun with my friends because I don’t want to feel targeted,” said Fitzloff.

Fitzloff explained that after going home with someone, for many students, regret often follows in the mornings. And that should serve as an indicator to alert students of the choices they make while intoxicated.

According to the above Security and Fire Safety Report, 217 On-Campus Property Liquor Law Arrests were made in the 2014 calendar year, which increased from 2013, at 191, and 170 Liquor Law Arrests in 2012.

Jonathan, a non-traditional student, had this to share; “In a small town like Mankato, I know that students get bored and need an outlet from school work tasks and exams, I don’t think it should be alcohol. They should find other resources and other ways of letting off steam because alcohol and alcohol abuse lead to some very complicated situations especially when it comes to safe sex and underage drinking.”

Jonathan’s insight was astonishing. He spoke regarding the effects of alcohol consumption and how it can persuade a person to do things that they normally wouldn’t.

“You have to surround yourself with responsible people that are going to look out for you and hopefully people who are not going to let you go out and consume too much alcohol,” Jonathan said.

Kinsey Fitzloff voiced her admiration of the Safe Bar Initiative, a program where local area restaurant employees and night life establishments receive training on how to identify and intervene in situations that indicate a potential sexual assault or harassment event.

“Usually it’s about power and control it’s not about the victim themselves. It isn’t about what individuals wear, how they talk, what kind of party they go to. It’s someone who chose them.”

Jordan also spoke about how educational awareness is vital within the first couple of weeks of the semester, because research suggests that’s when a majority of the incidents take place.

Jordan also discussed an application that is available as a free download, Circle of 6. The application allows the user to add six contacts to their circle of safety. The application provides the user with the ability to send cursory messages to their selected circle of contacts in the event that preliminary help is needed. Such as, “come get me, I need help getting home safely,” or, “call me and pretend that you need me, I need an interruption.” The former, also sends GPS coordinates to the group. This is a tool of the bystander intervention segment, mentioned in the online training course.

In contrast, one student, who will remain anonymous, was not content with the content that could possibly bring a survivor back to depression due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“I would say, have them take a course or information session that gives them a list of resources,” said the student. “Like around Mankato, such as the Mayo Clinic Health Systems, attorneys and the CADA Women’s Shelter.”

It is important to note, however, that those resources were made available. The survivor’s presentation was the very last segment to the issued training. The anonymous student recommended presenting two courses, one for survivors and one for the general student body. And providing two separate hyperlinks to those courses in the distribution email.

Overall, the general consensus that was received from students, faculty and community members, both on and off the record, was positive and reinforcing. A few students were left wondering if the course is made available for review at any given time if they wish to refresh their knowledge.

“I think last year was my first time ever experiencing anxiety from exams, I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life, and what I did instead of drinking alcohol, I got on my mountain bike and I rode some of these mountains here,” said Jonathan, the non-traditional student and gym rat.

“I’m an avid artist, so I do art. I listen to quality jazz. But see, you learn those things as you get older. When you’re young, you still follow the crowd and you’re searching for popularity. But as you get a little older you realize that you can be popular by yourself and introduce things to people that might not seem as popular as drinking. As you mature you learn these outlets and you learn to do the right thing,” said Moore.

I agree with Jonathan.

When I find myself at a bar with friends (seldomly), I never purchase a woman a drink. Instead, I ask if she’d like to shoot pool or throw darts. This is cheaper, and provides us with time to talk and get to know one another. If she mentions that she’s terrible at both, then great, I am too and we’ll have more time between ourselves.

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