Men for Consent hosts ConfestFest to raise campus awareness

This week, Men for Consent (MFC) and the Office of Student Life are hosting their second annual ConsentFest, a program providing a forum to discuss, plan and brainstorm ideas to stop sexual assault and rape on campus.

Troy Headerick, a guest speaker from the University of Vermont, kicked off the week with a lecture “Ending Our Campus Rape Culture” on Saturday, and was followed by a discussion for the attendees. On Monday evening, MFC hosted a discussion that critically examined the hook-up culture specific to the College, and invited students to attend their open meeting yesterday evening. Lectures, discussions and a movie screening are scheduled for the rest of this week.

This week’s ConsentFest varies both in structure and participation from the previous year’s. The event’s participants included students from peer institutions ranging from colleges in the NESCAC to the Art Institute of Chicago. The event was geared towards learning about other schools’ methods and policies in preventing sexual assault. Having processed and incorporated what it learned from the 2013 ConsentFest, MFC turned the attention back on the College itself, said Henry Bergman ’15, MFC co-president.

“Last year was much more about seeing how other schools deal with the problems MFC and [the Rape and Sexual Assault Network] confront. This year, ConsentFest is focused on educating the Williams community and creating spaces for dialogue,” Bergman said. The overall goal, however, remains the same. “Open your eyes, ears, and mind to different ways to improve your own life as well as ways to change our campus to be a safer and healthier space,” encourages the event’s Facebook page.

MFC invited Headerick to speak at Griffin Hall for the week’s opening event. He said students need to acknowledge that anger can be empowering and serve as a catalyst to effect change: “Inciting emotion to end the rape culture” was the tagline to Headerick’s slideshow. Aiming to provoke students to think critically about the hook-up culture on campus, Headerick prepared three flyers to publicize his event, one of which the Dean’s Office deemed

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too controversial to circulate. In his presentation, Headerick went over the three flyers and discussed what it was about their messages that caused them to be so triggering. He also drew attention to how our generation was taught to expect that rape is an inevitable reality, and that, from advertisements to jokes to t-shirts, rape is reinforced in our culture. Headerick touched on the issue of alcohol, and showed that many college students are neither aware that they have engaged in rape nor cognizant of the gravity of their behavior.

Bergman was pleased with the lecture, but expressed frustration at its low turnout. “I thought the lecture was great. Troy Headerick was an amazing speaker and had some great ideas. I think everyone who attended got a lot out of it and he did a swell job of answering questions afterwards. That said, I am frankly disappointed with the greater Williams community and its lack of turnout,” said Bergman. “I have had countless conversations about various problems with the hook-up culture here. And it is disappointing that when an event to learn how to change these issues comes up, people can’t take an hour out of their day to go beyond complaining and actually try to make an impact.”

ConsentFest continues with the lectures “Consent 2.0: An Introduction to and Discussion of BDSM & Kink Culture” tonight at 8 p.m. and “Queer Consent” tomorrow in Griffin Hall, and a screening and subsequent discussion of the film Protection-Masculinity and Condom Use in Subsaharan Africa on Friday at 6 p.m. in Paresky Auditorium. MFC is also selling its signature “Party with Consent” party tank tops at the tables in Paresky every afternoon this week.