Mandatory training unfairly blames victims.
The “Think About It” program by CampusClarity intends to educate college students about consent, drinking and hookup culture, but its questionable execution has led to discontent across campus. Throughout Facebook posts, Peirce conversations and Middle Path chats, Kenyon students have complained about the program’s rampant victim-blaming and hookup shaming.
At multiple points throughout the program, text boxes appear that ask students to give invasive details about their own intimate encounters— in addition to placing the onus of change on victims and their friends as opposed to perpetrators and enablers. For example, at the beginning of the program, students must complete a form indicating their relationship status and whether they are actively seeking a partner. Then, in Part 10, a text box asks students, “Think about at what point someone should have recognized that [character name] was in a risky situation and what action could have been taken to prevent her from being assaulted.” This text implies we have a responsibility to avoid being assaulted — as opposed to teaching perpetrators and genuinely confused students about consent, respect and sex positivity.
While I understand the administration’s intentions in requiring students to complete this program, I believe the program itself taints legitimate education about sex and consent with disrespect and invasion of privacy. This hinders students’ actual understanding of consent-related issues and perpetuates the very culture that the administration is attempting to eliminate.
Kenyon has a mission to decrease sexual assault and to better handle its Title IX investigations. Likewise, a multitude of students are genuinely invested in both of these issues. But by sending the message that learning about consent involves blaming survivors and providing details about personal experiences with sex and intimacy, “Think About It” effectively discourages students from taking sex education seriously. These students, in turn, will walk away from the program with a fundamental misunderstanding about the realities of consent and a lack of desire to further their own sex education.
It is important for us students to voice our concerns to the administration. If we keep our conversations within the student body, the administration will not be aware of our discontent and may continue to require patronizing programming in the name of education. While the imposition of “Think About It” has disappointed many of us, it has also presented us with an opportunity to demand better programming in the years to come.
Hayley Yussman ’18 is an English and political science major from River Forest, Ill. Contact her at email@example.com.