'Consent Day' attracts over 500 for shirts, games, food

by Phil Salinger | 8/8/06 5:00am

Students flocked to Webster Avenue on Saturday, Aug. 5 to celebrate the College's fourth annual "Consent Day," a day aimed at encouraging victims of sexual violence to speak out and educating students about what constitutes sexual violence.

The day of games, food and music drew over 500 undergraduates, high school debate campers and graduate students to the front lawns of Alpha Xi Delta sorority and Chi Gamma Epsilon, Phi Delta Alpha, Sigma Nu and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternities.

There the houses were hosting an array of activities, from a scavenger hunt to "consensual Twister," which differed from the original game in that each color was associated with a phrase related to consensual sex. According to Sexual Abuse Awareness Coordinator Leah Prescott, the phrases included "yes," "no" and "Can I?"

"It's a fun way to call attention to preventative methods without making it really heavy," said Elizabeth Sherman '08, the Consent Day committee co-chair.

The event also focused on collecting signatures for the "Consent Day Pledge," a document outlining Dartmouth's sexual abuse policy. It asked attendees to pledge that they understand the meaning of consent, that they understand that non-consensual sexual activity in any form constitutes sexual assault and that they will educate others about consent.

All students who signed the pledge received their own T-shirt that reads on the front "Consensual sex is hot."

In addition to attracting people to the event, the T-shirts also will be instrumental in spreading the messages expounded throughout the day, both Prescott and Sherman said.

Upon receiving the shirt, students agreed that whenever asked about the shirt they would explain its significance and tell the inquiring party about Consent Day's messages.

Prescott, who was leading her first Consent Day, said that she hopes to display the pledge and the names of those who signed it in the Collis Center or in some other prominent location in the fall.

Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity hosted a popular Consent Day spin-off that coincided with the official events called "consensual mud-wrestling," a competition between the fraternity and Sigma Delta sorority. The e-mail advertising Alpha Chi's event read, "Consensual mud-wrestling is hot AND dirty."

"It was definitely a blast," Sigma Delt member and mud-wrestling participant Jenny Fisher '08 said. "I just wish we'd gotten all the gravel bits out of the bottom. There was some blood loss in the mud pit."

On the whole, Prescott called the day successful, but said that in the future she would like to reach a wider range of people, saying that the program generally connects most with white women between the ages of 18 and 25.

This year's Consent Day had among its sponsors Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, a national black fraternity, and Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternity, a national Latino one.

Prescott said that she hopes to make progress with different groups by finding ways to talk about consent in a way that each group can identify with. Not everyone talks about sex in the same way, she said.

"[Consent Day] helps people to find the language to consent and to ask for consent," she said.