A student’s perspective: the Consent Matters programme

The phrase "Consent is mutual, active, respecting boundaries, comfortable, retractable, checking, willingly given" in the shape of a heart. RUSU and University of Reading logo.

Have you been asked to complete the Consent Matters training recently but don’t know what it entails? This blog will cover a student perspective of what the training is, why it is important, and how you can implement it during your time at university.

What is the Consent Matters training?

The Consent Matters programme is designed to help all students understand sexual consent, promote effective communication and respectful relationships, and empower students to be active bystanders.

The training is separated into three different sections:

  1. Thinking about consent – You will learn what is meant by consent, why it is important and when and how we can ask for consent in our relationships.
  2. Communication skills and relationships – You will explore your own communication and relationship needs, as well as those of the person or people you’re with.
  3. Looking out for others – You will explore positive intervention. What is it? How does it relate to consent and other situations in which you might feel concerned? And how can you be a positive agent of change and help us live in safer and happier communities?

What did I learn and aspects of the training I found useful

After completing this programme, I felt more confident about what consent should look like within relationships and how to intervene in situations where someone around me is unable to give consent to another person.

In the first module, the use of the acronym ‘FRIES’ helped to lay out the basics of what consent entails and what consent should look like. This was helpful as gave me a deeper understanding of what to expect when giving or receiving consent.

F = Freely given
R = Reversible
I = Informed
E = Enthusiastic
S = Specific

Furthermore, the second module helped me understand how to communicate my boundaries effectively, what kinds of things can we say or do to give or seek consent and some signs that we should pause, or even stop.

Finally, the third module was useful in giving strategies on how to intervene in a helpful and effective way in situations where we think someone is unable to give consent to another person.

Why should students take the training and pass on information to their peers?

I think this training is extremely useful for all students as it gives you the tools to be able to give and receive consent and learn how to communicate this effectively. Not only this, but it provides you with strategies on how to positively intervene in situations where people are not in a position to give consent. I believe that learning about consent is a key skill that everyone needs as it is something that we give in everyday life, whether engaging in a sexual relationship with someone or not. Therefore, I think all students should take the ‘Consent Matters’ course as it will provide them with important skills and knowledge, they will use throughout their university life and beyond.

What other students thought of the training:

“One of the very important things – I believe I got a firmer understanding of as a result of the training was the emphasis on how important it is to receive a direct verbal response. I think many people often take that for granted and rely on other physical signs for consent (which isn’t consent at all).”

“I have learned how to support those in need and how to know when/how to step in and help someone. I have also learned different forms of harassment and where to direct someone if they need further help. These skills were something I knew before, but this training showed things I may not have noticed or considered.”

“I was actually quite surprised with how interactive the training was. I feel like having those different scenarios and enabling the user to alter how they played out made it really engaging. I liked the voting option as it allowed me to compare myself to others who have taken the training and to gain a general understanding of where people lie when it comes to such crucial topics.”

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