Image credit: OU
A new online consent programme has launched for all students at the University of Oxford.
The programme will help new and returning students to build their understanding of consensual sex, respect, boundaries and positive intervention. All students have been encouraged to complete the course in advance of arriving at Oxford ahead of the new academic year.
Consent Matters forms part of the University’s wider Oxford Against Sexual Violence campaign, which launched in 2018 and sends a clear message that sexual harassment and violence of any form is unacceptable.
The campaign initially focused on promoting the Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service, first launched in October 2018. As part of this work, last year the University increased staff numbers in the service; appointed specialist staff to handle student complaints; and made changes to disciplinary procedures to make them more transparent.
The University has signed up for a three-year pilot of the Consent Matters programme, which has been developed by Epigeum; a leading provider of online courses that helps students understand sexual consent, communication and relationships, and bystander intervention.
Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education, at Oxford University, said: “We are committed to tackling sexual harassment and violence in all forms across the University. The Support Service already provides vital support for students who have been impacted by these issues. Helping our students to understand the meaning of consent is another important part of our response, and I would encourage all students to take the course.”
Dame Elish Angiolini, Chair of the Oxford University Sexual Violence Steering Group, said: “We all need to play our part in tackling sexual harassment and violence at Oxford and in encouraging respectful interactions within the community. Preventative measures are just as important as responding well to specific incidents, and this online training course offers all students essential information about consent and healthy relationships.”
Alex Foley, SU VP Women, said: "Combating sexual violence is a priority for us at the Student Union. As such we have been delighted with the overwhelming student response to our online Consent Workshops. So far we have managed to train over 200 student facilitators. We are extremely pleased that the University’s Consent Matters programme is available as an additional resource demonstrating the University’s commitment to these values. We've enjoyed coordinating with the Oxford University Sexual Harassment and Violence Support service and look forward to the launch of the Consent Matters programme."
Oxford SU has previously run face-to-face consent workshops during Fresher's Week, which this year will continue to be delivered virtually online, the workshops will complement the University online programme and allow space for further discussion.
The interactive course is free to all University participants, and available through the Oxford Students website.