Welcome to Consent Training Camp
Stingers’ 2015 Season Kicks Off With Mandatory Sexual Consent Training
For the Concordia Stingers, fall 2015 will mark a new school year full of change: a rebranding campaign, which includes a new logo and updated jerseys unveiled last week, several new coaches, and for the first time, mandatory sexual consent workshops for all athletes.
The plan is for all consent-training sessions to be completed by mid-September for both men and women’s teams, with the help of 15 trained facilitators. They will cover the following topics and information:
1) Clear examples and definitions of consent, and information on what constitutes sexual assault
2) Information on sexual harassment
3) Statistics related to sexual violence
4) Small-group scenarios meant to generate discussions on bystander intervention when students witness sexual harassment or assault in their daily lives.
The consent training is the brainchild of Jennifer Drummond, coordinator of Concordia’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC). In the spring of 2014, Drummond approached Patrick Boivin, director of Concordia’s Department of Recreation and Athletics, about developing a program to inform athletes about issues surrounding consent.
“It started as a reach-out on her end, and we started to have some thoughts as to what our role was as a department,” Boivin said. “We had two different meetings, and it’s throughout those meetings and discussions that we started to establish that it was probably something we should be doing.”
In the summer of 2014, Drummond carried out a pilot program for the training, in which she held a consent workshop for two men’s football groups. Fast forward a year later, and in conjunction with the Dean of Students office, the training is being officially implemented for all Stingers teams.
The program began this year with an orientation session for the Stingers coaches in August, in which they were guided through the training and asked for feedback. According to Drummond, the response from the coaches was positive.
“They seemed overall excited about it,” Drummond said. “People had a lot of great stories to share, and participated and really engaged with the small-group activities we had them do.”
Boivin echoed this sentiment, and said that the training program has been “eye-opening” for both coaches and athletes.
“The reality of the varying degrees of sexual violence isn’t something that most people know about,” Boivin said. “You don’t necessarily know what you should know if you’ve never been exposed to it.”
And this new exposure, according to Drummond, can be difficult to deal with, especially for newer members of the Stingers. The football team was the first to receive the training, and the SARC coordinator said that it was difficult to handle for some.
“It’s a really challenging topic; I think it’s even more challenging for younger students—younger men—who maybe are not used to thinking about these things.” – Jennifer Drummond
“It’s a really challenging topic; I think it’s even more challenging for younger students—younger men—who maybe are not used to thinking about these things,” Drummond said. “I got the sense that it was freaking some people out, which is a totally normal response.”
Drummond also pointed out that certain coaches and students responded to some of the material with laughter—a response she attributes to nervousness. “There’s always some laughter, because it’s a way to diffuse tension,” Drummond said. “But there’s also the laughter that is maybe intended to be a bit of a challenge to the facilitator—challenging the seriousness of it.”
As far as the Stingers are concerned, however, this training is no laughing matter. Although there are no specific repercussions in place for missing a consent workshop, Recreation and Athletics sees it as a mandatory element of pre-season activities.
“The expectation is that, unless you’ve got a good reason, you’re going to be there—no different than a practice,” Boivin said.
The training comes at a time when consent is at the forefront of Concordia’s discourse. Following the revelations from the former student politician known as Mei-Ling last spring, several stories have come to light in the media from women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted at the university.
Drummond says that these instances are powerful reminders that programs like the Stingers consent training need to exist.
“It just reinforced the importance of doing these types of workshops, and the importance of educating our community about these issues,” she said.
For Boivin, the goal of the training is to heighten awareness of issues relating to sexual violence amongst student athletes, so that they’re better equipped to make good decisions.
“The lines for them are somewhat blurred because their information sources probably aren’t as dialed in as the kind of training and orientation they’re getting now,” Boivin said. “It was good to see the evolution within that training session; how a student athlete’s perspective on things will be as they go along, and as the dialogue opens up … they open up themselves.”