Title IX and institutions' obligations around sexual assault prevention and response received a great deal of attention from media, government and activists. However, despite accountability increases and reforms, as well as diligent efforts to prevent sexual coercion and assault, incident rates have remained stagnant since decades. Institutions may be compliant with Campus SAVE Act and Title IX requirements, and yet may never prevent a single assault.
Join our expert speakers Dr. Jason Laker and Dr. Erica Boas as they discuss the results of their groundbreaking qualitative study about how college students navigate their amorous and sexual beliefs and experiences. Implicit assumptions underlying laws, policies and programs do not match lived experiences when it comes to consent. They'll share and discuss this research and implications for untangling the issues and supporting students' development and agency.
Findings of the Study
Current sexual assault prevention approaches hold some merit but the study offered friendly critique and suggestions for enhancement within the work products of their research. Existing tools rely on some problematic, under-examined and even incorrect assumptions about what is actually occurring in the lived experiences of the students, especially in the case of consent. "Consent" is a term that "feels" clear and defined, and thus something that can be taught, required, negotiated, communicated and understood (and evaluated in a disciplinary hearing). However, there are substantial gaps in available knowledge about how this actually happens in intimate spaces, interfering with students' personal agency and institutional capacity to prevent sexual harassment, coercion and violence, and their health consequences.
Moreover, there are complex functions served by socially maintaining a blurry definition of, and approach to consent in practice that has not been adequately investigated or theorized. This "strategic ambiguity" (Currier, 2013) manifests in both the collective and intimate ethoi of collegiate sexual culture. Our experts found that students would sometimes become intentionally intoxicated (essentially plying themselves with alcohol) or within the context of intimate situations, would express reservations or unwillingness to engage in sexual relations when actually wanting to do so in order to reduce guilt, shame, or other inhibitions around initiating or being receptive to sexual overtures.
The study revealed some constraining influences on agency and honesty and the fragility of the discussion in avoiding victim-blaming and reductionist descriptions of the challenges they face. Progress by policy-makers, administrators and preventive practitioners, is limited because of the political minefield associated with openly discussing and questioning these dynamics. Present legal and policy frameworks guiding institutional practices assume and expect student to clearly communicate sexual interests, requests, agreements or refusals as a precondition to sexual activity. However, this is often severely constrained or even precluded by students' social conventions and norms and disproportionately privileges bureaucratic and legalistic lenses and vocabulary vis-à-vis interpreting and engaging issues of amorous and sexual intimacy among students, undermining a credible, meaningful or effective treatment of the issues (but ironically not preventing an institution from being deemed compliant with Title IX and related obligations).
Common prevention efforts arguably situate within the predator/prey paradigm of sexual consent, which may or may not be useful for some scenarios. Our experts argue that there is a much wider diversity of scripts in operation among students and you will understand a fuller inventory of these scenes and belief systems at play leading into and through them and to identify gaps in knowledge, policies and practices, and propose and pilot remedies to reduce their risks and consequences.
Our experts conducted a pilot study during the 2012-13AY in which a cohort of college students shared their intimate encounters, particularly elaborate rituals of consent negotiation, intentional and incidental risks, and strategies for reconciling shame and desire, among other important dynamics of relevance. Our experts aim to research on a larger scale to iterate new understandings about consent and its application to reducing instances of coercion and non--consensual sexual encounters among college students.
"We have to gain a deeper understanding of the issues, moving from 'it just happened' to true personal agency."
After attending this webinar you will be able to:
Who should attend
Dr. Jason Laker
Dr. Jason Laker is a Professor in the Department of Counselor Education and Ed.D. Program in Educational Leadership at San Jose State University, where he previously served as Vice President for Student Affairs. Prior to SJSU, Jason worked in Canada as AVP & Dean of Student Affairs and on the faculty of the Departm... More info
Dr. Erica Boas
Dr. Erica Misako Boas is an Adjunct Lecturer in the Liberal Studies Program at Santa Clara University where she teaches future teachers and future child advocates. She studies sexuality and race and their articulations in institutions of schooling. In addition to her research on "Consent Stories", she is curr... More info