Background of the Project The Department of Justice reports one in five college women will be a victim of rape in a typical four year career, a statistic that has remained stagnant for 60 years despite intense legal and educational efforts intended to prevent this. We believe that more nuanced information about consent negotiation among college students is critically important to development and implementation of effective strategies for prevention of sexual coercion and assault. Despite years of rigorous research and implementation of prevention programs, achieving the goal of eliminating – or even substantially reducing – sexual assaults among college students has yet to be realized. Our project is concerned with the relative stagnation in the collection of strategies available to achieve the objective of preventing sexual violence on college campuses.
We NEED to do better, and we CAN do better. While legal, reputational and compliance concerns are important, they have become the primary drivers of conversations and approaches to addressing the problems of sexual coercion and assault on college campuses. The figure below demonstrates the current situation:
Current Project Summary The Consent Stories™ project is a constructivist inquiry that explores practices and beliefs about sexual consent among college students, particularly relative to their sexual orientation and ethnic/racial identity. We believe that a more robust understanding of the processes that cohere around consent can aid in informing sexual violence prevention strategies on college campuses. The existing tools for preventing sexual violence on campuses rely on some problematic, under-examined and even incorrect assumptions about what is actually occurring in the lived experiences of college students, especially with respect to consent. Our conversations with students from our 2012-13 pilot study show this. The overarching goal of this project relates to reducing or eliminating incidents of coerced and non-consensual sexual encounter among college students. Efforts to prevent these incidents are undermined by gaps in current knowledge about the mundane and/or intimate locations where consent is negotiated, as well as their social and cultural contexts. The Consent Stories™ project fills this gap and informs more effective attention to the project of eliminating sexual coercion and violence.
In our current project, we seek to: 1) Gather more information and increase knowledge of consent practices, rituals, and beliefs through interviews. 2) Illuminate social learning about sexuality to impact effectiveness of sexual violence prevention efforts. 3) Develop program curriculum that engages with the complexities of sexual consent. 4) Implement pilot sexual consent and violence prevention prograsm based on evidence from this research.