09 May Consent Conversations on Campus
By Lindsay Yates
My name is Lindsay Yates and I am a fourth year student at Trent studying gender studies and media studies. I became part of the Trent Impact Program in 2016 where I was given the opportunity to gain leadership skills through workshops and to volunteer for a local organization. I was fortunate enough to be placed at the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre (KSAC) where I got a lot of choice in how I wanted to complete my 20 volunteer hours. Mikie (the other student volunteer) and I chose to do two projects together: a film screening and a photo shoot about consent.
We chose to screen The Hunting Ground at Trent on March 13th and followed with a discussion. The documentary covers the topic of sexual assault and rape on college/university campuses which felt in line with the interests of KSAC and relevant to Trent students. The audience seemed to really enjoy the screening; this film does a great job of opening people’s eyes to the reality of sexual violence. After the film, we engaged in a conversation that I facilitated with some prepared questions. We discussed what struck us about the film, how it was relevant to our university in particular, and how we could work to make campuses safe for students. Hearing the perspectives of students in relevant and non-relevant majors, as well as professors, made for a great conversation.
At the end of the screening we displayed our photos that we had taken by Isioma Mafiana, a graduated Trent student and photographer. Mikie and I chose to create photos that exemplified consent: why it’s needed, where it’s needed, and simply what it is. We felt this connected well to the topic of the documentary we screened, and thought that creating artwork to explain consent could have a greater impact than text or verbal communication. We used written text within the photos to communicate the message, and often actually wrote the text onto people’s bodies. It became unavoidable to read the text and allow it to resonate and to then directly relate that message to real life people. I felt that the photos brought reality to a subject that could be then easily understood. Seeing our models’ serious expressions and bodies while reading a simple message about consent felt incredibly effective.
Working on these projects was a fantastic way for me to close out my experience with Trent Impact. I really enjoyed putting together an event and an art project, both things I had little experience with before. I plan on working with KSAC for as long as I remain in Peterborough and hope to gain even more experience and to contribute as much as possible to this great organization.