Packed Consent Week planned

Consent Week has been a staple of ARHS’s social awareness campaigns since its debut in 2015. Now, in its fourth year, the week, which will take place between Monday, April 9 and Friday, April 13, is shaping up to be one of the largest so far.

The student group, made up of Women’s Rights Club and SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Alliance) members, began meeting this fall to brainstorm engaging and creative ideas.

SAGA president Abigail Morris and Women’s rights club president Aviva Weinbaum, along with Women’s Rights club advisor Danielle Seltzer, are at the helm.

Ms. Seltzer made the mission of the week clear. “I think that every student is capable of understanding what consent is as long as we are giving space for every student in the building to have those discussions,” she said, emphasizing that students need to learn about consent in ways that are “accessible to them.”

Last year’s week was a success in this aspect, providing many conversation about consent.

This year’s week will include a school wide advisory, a Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Training for female-identified students, a dialogue on masculinity for male-identified students, and a consensual ice cream sundae making activity, as well as several after-school dialogues.

Weinbaum is most excited for the RAD training, provided by the Amherst Police department, from 2:30-3 p.m.“It’s so much fun. They just bring their punching bags,” she said. “You [will also] learn the eye jab!”

Ms. Seltzer is excited that this event will be run by students, for students.

Now, as Morris reports, with attendance at SAGA meetings having risen from around seven members last year to an average of 20 this year and 40 active in the club overall, Consent Week has more hands on deck to power the events.

Earlier this year, the student groups applied for and received a grant from the PGO for money to bring in outside speakers.

On Monday April 9, representatives from Tapestry Health will be available after school to discuss safe sex.

The talks from Tapestry Health display the theme of that day, “Consent is Healthy.” During the week there will be themes for every day ranging from “Consent is fun” to “Consent is complicated.”

On the day dubbed “Consent is for Everyone” students will be organized into advisories based on their age and selected preference based on a survey taken during the March 22, 2018 advisory.

Professor Lynn Phillips, author of Flirting with Danger: Young Women’s Reflections on Sexuality and Domination, will talk about consent and power dynamics in relationships.

Other advisories include a workshop on Media Images and Consent and also Consent 101.

Seniors will tackle themes of partying and the pressures to accept a prom date.

Hours of preparation have gone into making this week possible.

“I think it’s really good to get that seed [of thinking about consent] planted in people’s minds,” said Morris. “Every person in this building is going to be thinking about consent [that week] in one way or another and that’s a lot more than most kids [elsewhere] are going to get.”

“These conversations are so important,” said Ms. Seltzer. “I know it happens at the college level but really it needs to be happening now.”