For new college students, just finding themselves, finding their tribe, and growing into their adult lives, decisions about sexuality, without a lot of resources to apply to these types of decisions, can seem overwhelming. College campuses are easing these transitions by supporting Women’s Centers and LGBTQ centers on campus. Despite these measures, sexual assault statistics on college campuses show that this is an epidemic. As a result, far too many people’s memories of college are tainted by assault. Since the effects of sexual assault on college campuses are not effectively studied, and funding for sexual assault prevention programs is little to nil, we may never know what a world without it could look like.
It may not seem this way on the evening news, but there are hundreds of schools taking huge steps to educate its student body on how best to engage with each other’s… well, bodies. Through highlighting and informing incoming students on the affirmative consent rules that are located in their handbook, and funding a dedicated Women’s Center to be a place to spend time and learn about safe practices, colleges and universities are paving the way to safety. Women’s centers, sexuality resource centers, gay or queer centers, and even some sorority groups on campuses can act as these safe spaces for women and gender minorities (queer and transgender students). While these spaces offer much more than resources for rape and sexual assault prevention, they are a great resource for this pressing need also.
Ranking Colleges for Affirmative Consent
The decision to apply for and attend a school cannot be solely based on how safe it is. All of the other important reasons to choose a college still apply in the time of the #metoo movement; sexual assault on college campuses is important, but things like cost, academic reputation, and return on investment still have to factor in heavily when picking a school to attend. Especially because there are so many schools that are getting the affirmative consent and training thing right. The following is a list of U.S. schools that have affirmative consent policies and sexuality resource centers. They are ranked on the following characteristics:
- Cost, as reported to IPEDS
- Reputation, as evaluated my NICHE.com
- Return on Investment, as measured by the salary of alumni 10 years later
Being proactive about sexual assault prevention programs on college campuses is good for everyone. It means more time to focus on school, more confidence among students, better communication skills, fewer resources needed to assist survivors of violence, and shorter supreme court nomination hearings. Sowing the seeds of sexual respect among men, women, and everyone is not only the responsibility of all adults who impact young people, but it is also a great way to make the world a better place.
Truman State University
Truman State University was founded in 1867 as a public liberal arts and sciences educational center. A man named Joseph Baldwin started the school, and originally called it the North Missouri Normal School and Commercial College. It happened to be the first teaching college in the state of Missouri. Their campus is currently situated in that town of Kirksville, Missouri on 210 acres of land. They are a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. In 1996, they took on their current name, Truman State University, to honor the only president of the United States that was born in the state of Missouri, Harry S. Truman.
Truman State University works hard to ensure that practices of affirmative consent are utilized on their campus. The Women’s Resource Center is the home of programming that looks beyond the age of consent and urges students to communicate beyond implied consent, and ask questions like “why is consent essential”? They have an annual Sexual Assault Awareness Week, which culminates in a Take Back the Night Rally where students have opportunities to read poems, share stories, and march through campus as an act of survival and visibility. There are also opportunities for students to take self-defense classes at the center. They work to engage young men involved in Greek Life in the dialogue about sexual assault on campus, including an event called Frat Boys in Unordinary Shoes. The University policy defining consent can be found here.
The University of Tennessee at Martin
The University of Tennessee at Martin is also known as UT Martin and UTM. This four-year school was established in 1927, and named after two Baptist ministers, and initially called the Hall-Moody Institute. Hall-Moody was a junior college, and in 1927 The Tennessee Baptist Convention, who was the parent organization, decided to merge Hall-Moody with Union University. Their campus sits on 250 acres of land in rural Martin, Tennessee. UT is also part of the University of Tennessee System. One exciting aspect of their campus is the large experimental farm within the schools reach that is used for teaching all sorts of atypical things.
The University of Tennessee at Martin has many opportunities for students to engage in programming that supports affirmative consent. The Women’s Center is an active hub that offers speakers series’, and workshops such as Identifying Abuse. They prioritize language and discourse around consent, such as consent is given by an affirmative, and defining that if someone gives consent for one sexual activity, that does not mean it is a carte blanche for that activity anytime, nor does it mean consent is given for another activity. These definitions go beyond the age of consent and ensure that students have verbal skills that are beyond what might be implied consent. The University has a comprehensive manual on procedures regarding consent that you can find here.
Utah Valley University
The Utah Valley University, which is also known as UVU, was established in 1941. They were previously called Utah Valley State College but took on their current name in 2008 when they gained university status. The suburban campus is situated on 228 acres of land in the town of Orem, Utah. They are fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. They recently made news with the newly constructed Digital Learning Center, which replaced the 35,000 square foot Losee Resource Center Library. The current library received an award in 2008 for being the “greenest” state-owned building in Utah.
Utah Valley University has extensive programming on affirmative consent, ensuring that students have access to tools and language that relate to types of consent beyond the age of consent. They have an active Women’s Success Center that works to support women throughout their academic career and help them graduate. It also offers events that support communication and safety. Some of their programming includes film screenings, Days for Girls volunteering, and International Women’s Day for Women and Girls. Their office is located on the main campus of Utah Valley University, and they are open on weekdays from 8-5, ensuring that students can walk in and seek support, as well as accessing their many program offerings.
Wright State University
Wright State University was established in 1967 as a four-year public research institution. It was initially a branch site of the Miami University and Ohio State University, and one single building held all of its resources. In 1965 The Ohio General Assembly transitioned the Ohio State University Campus to the Wright State Campus. The name of the school is in honor of the Wright brothers contributions, as they grew up in Dayton and together invented the world’s first airplane. Wright State is located in the heart of Dayton, Ohio. They are fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission at a doctoral level.
Among Wright State University’s Culture and Identity Centers is their Women’s Center, which is a campus hotbed for discussions on affirmative consent training and student self-determination. Creating safe and healthy relationships is paramount to the mission of student life at Wright State, and their comprehensive Community Standards and specifically Section IX Gender-Based Violence and Harassment Policy reflects this campus-wide imperative. Consent is defined by the university as “an act of knowingly and affirmatively agreeing to engage in sexual activity, and they ensure that students have the appropriate tools to engage in such practices”. It is a campus-wide policy that implied consent is not enough to keep students safe, and therefore, the necessary affirmative consent skills are valued, taught, and taken very seriously.
University of Minnesota Morris
The University of Minnesota-Morris, which is colloquially referred to as UMM, was established in 1960. Before 1960, that site of UMM was the Morris Industrial School for Indians, a boarding school for indigenous children that was on land owned by the Roman Catholic Sisters of Mercy. Currently, UMM is a liberal art four year school that is connected to the University of Minnesota System. Their campus is situated on 42 acres of land in Morris, Minnesota. Their buildings are known for utilizing renewable energy and green building. Their academic offerings include 35 majors and minors, and they serve nearly 2,000 students per year.
The University of Minnesota Morris offers many opportunities for students to learn skills around affirmative consent that are not only based on policy but also practice. This institution is committed to eradicating violence towards women and gender minorities on campus, and many resources are engaged through the Commission on Women and Gender Equity. Some of their work around visibility and transforming sex and gender violence includes supporting the major and minor of Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies at the institution. Age of consent is essential, but that is not the only necessary dialogue students should be having concerning campus-wide conversations around sexual consent. The #metoo movement has sparked a lot of new visibility with the cultural dearth of women’s rights to define their boundaries. This institution is working towards a new norm.
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse was established in 1909 with the original name La Crosse State Normal School. This was the eighth normal school out of nine built in Wisconsin with the purpose of training teachers. They are now a member of the University of Wisconsin System with a myriad of program offerings through their five distinct schools, including over 100 undergraduate programs. The US News and World Report ranked UWL in the category of the top comprehensive university within the University of Wisconsin System for seventeen years in a row. Their campus is sits on 119 acres of land in the town of La Crosse, Wisconsin.
At the Organization for Campus Women (OCW) on the UW La Crosse campus, creative solutions to common issues of gender inequality come up all the time. The OCW is a membership organization for students who identify as women. Staff at the Organization lead groups in determining area students and faculty are brought into conversation with each other to specifically address the barriers that exist to enhancing the status of women. As a membership organization, they operate differently than a resource center on campus for women, as many of the centers on this list are. Together, they organize events like collaborating with local, state and national organizations to reach their goals and enact their mission. They also spearhead service projects that serve to promote communication and collaboration among women and enhance their status on campus and beyond. This type of space that encourages women’s role in leadership is an example of creating safe spaces by being, rather than by doing.
University of Nebraska Medical Center
The University of Nebraska Medical Center was established in 1880 as a private medical college. They grew rapidly in their first twenty years, creating a dental college, pharmacy college, college of nursing, and college of medicine. In 1902, they joined the University of Nebraska System and opened a university hospital in 1917. They are known for being a public center that orients towards health sciences research, education, and patient care. Their campus is located in Omaha, Nebraska. The US News and World Report ranked them 5th in the country in the category of Best Medical Schools, in the category of primary care.
The Women’s Resource Center at the University of Nebraska has very clear goals. They exist for students, faculty, and staff to promote gender wellness and equality throughout the community of UNO. They put on campus events that have the focus of supporting this mission. They conduct outreach to ensure that the presence of the resource center and the resources they provide are available and accessible to people on campus, whether those people knew of it before. They also create initiatives to raise awareness on an issue or address a problem on campus. The WRC is student-run, meaning there are leadership opportunities for students to engage in, creating avenues to aid a professional endeavor upon graduation and practice in advocacy work. Everyone on campus is welcome, to learn more about the resources that contribute to the support of women’s lives on campus. They make special note that they proudly support all who identify as women on their campus.
University of Minnesota Crookston
The University of Minnesota Crookston was established in 1966. Previously, their campus was used as experimental research farmland, and in 1905 was initiated as the Northwest School of Agriculture; soon after it became the University of Minnesota Technical Institute that then became its current incarnation. Their campus now sits on 108 acres of land on the northern edge of the town of Crookston, Minnesota. Their slogan is “small campus, big degree,” highlighting the intimate class environments that are fostered within the institution. The comprehensive degree offerings the university provides, including 34 undergraduate majors and 39 disciplines, plus 22 minors are just as important.
The University of Minnesota at Crookston considers their Women’s Center an invaluable resource to the students on campus, as well as the broader campus community. In addition to the resources and topics that the Women’s Center is focused on at UMC, they also take suggestions about how to be more expansive and accessible to everyone. Since 1960, the University of Minnesota has worked with the Women’s Center to advance gender equity. They do this by prioritizing and providing educational, and inspirational resources and information, through advocacy, strategic programming, and social media. Their goal is to speed up the work needed to reach an equitable world for people across identities. The Women’s Center helped develop the policies on consent and sexual harassment for the school as well.
University of Toledo
The University of Toledo was established in 1872 and was initially a private arts and trades school. Their offerings highlighted architectural drawing and painting. The campus has expanded to include over 1,400 acres of land in Toledo, Ohio in the Ottawa neighborhood. Within their campus is the University of Toledo Medical Center. They are known for their abundant student life opportunities, including 300 student-led organizations, and many sports teams, which are called the Rockets. They are connected to the Mid-American Conference. Their academic offerings are expansive and include over 250 programs. Their total student enrollment is just over 23,000 students.
The Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women on the University of Toledo campus promotes the advancement of women at the university. What this means regarding programming and work is creating an environment that supports learning, discovery, engagement while enabling women to achieve their highest potential. At this campus affirmative consent is taken very seriously, and the tools necessary for students to know how to consent verbally and not rely on implied consent. On campus, the #metoo movement has been taken very seriously and was met with more tools and advocacy opportunities to support women and gender minorities personal safety within the campus community.
William Paterson University
The William Paterson University is officially called the William Paterson University of New Jersey. It is second to the oldest of the nine state colleges in New Jersey. It was established in 1855 with the name Patterson City Normal School. Their hilly campus is situated on 370 acres of land in Wayne Township and is beside the High Mountains Preserve. The school is comprised of five distinct academic schools. An interesting fact is that thirty percent of their student body are the first in their families to attend post-secondary school. In 2018 the US News and World Report ranked them 102 among the Best Regional Universities.
The William Paterson University is committed to teaching students types of consent by ensuring that a variety of programs support affirmative consent language and best practices. There are many campus-wide initiatives to promote advocacy and visibility for women’s self-determination, leadership, and safety on campus and beyond. One of the many empowering resources for students on campus is their Women’s Center which offers a safe space as well as programs that support equity and justice specifically for women and gender minorities, as well as students of color. The Women’s Center also participates heavily in the development of campus policies and procedures. They their suggestion to include wording about affirmative consent in the student conduct manual was headed by administration staff and is present and impactful still.
University of Wisconsin- Whitewater
The University of Wisconsin was founded in 1868 with the original name Whitewater Normal School. Their first class of educators graduated in 1970. They have undergone many changes since they first opened their doors, and are now part of the University of Wisconsin System. They offer over 1,000 classes and employ over 1,400 faculty members. Their nickname is the Warhawks. Their gorgeous campus is situated on 400 acres of land in the Southeastern region of Wisconsin in the town of Whitewater. They are known for their student life and recreational infrastructure, including the on-campus bowling alley, coffee shop, art gallery, and live music stage.
The University of Wisconsin Whitewater is committed to working on a path of eliminating physical and sexual violence on campus. Some of the ways they work in the direction of this goal is to teach practices of affirmative consent to all students. On campus is an active Women’s Center that is home base for many activities that promote women’s advocacy and self-determination. They have a sexual misconduct policy that is laid out in a video called “it’s on all of us,” featured within their Sexual Misconduct Information. There are also many opportunities for students to speak with confidentiality and seek support if they experienced interpersonal violence.
Utah State University
Utah State University, also known as USU, was established in 1888 and is a public institution that grants doctoral degrees. Their original name was Utah’s Agricultural College, and they took on their current name in 1957. USU is a space and land-grant university that is known for conducting a higher level of research as noted by the Carnegie Foundation. USU is Utah’s largest residential public school in the state, and they also have the largest population of students from other states. Their campus is situated on 400 acres of land in Logan, Utah. The campus looks as if it is sitting on a bench on a foothill that overlooks a western valley.
Utah State University has a Center for Women and Gender that supports affirmative consent dialogue among a cross-section of issues that impact women and gender minorities. Their mission is steeped in social justice and a commitment to give students the tools to keep themselves safe interpersonally by learning types of consent beyond the age of consent, while providing support for students that have experienced interpersonal violence. They offer programming such as a Women’s Leadership Project as well as academic programs in Women’s and Gender Studies. It is a campus-wide priority that the #metoo movement is not in vain and that students have many avenues to explore their sexuality consensually.
Wayne State College
Wayne State College was established in 1910 and was formerly a normal school called Nebraska Normal College. Their mission was to educate teachers until they developed a more comprehensive program and took on their current name in 1963. Within their four schools they over 90 programs. They also deliver classes at the Northeast Community College, which is in Norfolk, Nebraska. Their campus is situated on 128 acres of land in the town of Wayne, Nebraska. They have an additional satellite site in Sioux City, Nebraska. They are a part of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and offer many opportunities for students to engage in sports. Their mascot is the Wildcat.
Wayne State College offers many opportunities for students to learn about affirmative consent practices. They clearly define consent on their Sexual Assault & Harassment Information page. They also have a myriad of on-campus resources for women, including a group called RISE Learning Center, which provides resources for self-identified women of color. There is another group on campus called the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which offers interdisciplinary curricula that dive deep into the cultural, economic, social, economic and political dynamics that play out in the construction of gender and sexuality.
Lincoln University, which is often referred to as LU, was established in 1854 as the first Historically Black University in the state of Pennsylvania. They were founded by a Presbyterian and Quaker husband and wife team, with the original name Asmund Institute, after social reformer and religious leader Jehudi Asmund. Their original vision was to create more opportunities for African Americans in education. In 1972 it went from being private to public. Their primary campus is situated on 422 acres of land beside the town of Oxford in Chester County, Pennsylvania. They are a member school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Lincoln University has a Women’s Center that is central to on-campus student life. Some of their offerings include programming that supports the empowerment of women, which includes affirmative consent training. Their center is often busy with learning and advocacy, with speakers series’ and events that support safety and personal growth. Many of their practices include leadership development and strategies to keep women and gender minorities safe in the post #metoo movement world. The Women’s Center is located in the Thurgood Marshall Learning Center on campus. Also accessible to students through this center are counseling opportunities for individuals and groups.
Northern Michigan University
The Northern Michigan University, which is also known as NMU, was established in 1899 as a Normal School by the Michigan State Legislature. At the time of their inception, there were few educational options for students in the Upper Peninsula area of the state. Their campus is now in the small city of Marquette, Michigan, and is situated on 350 acres of land. They offer master’s and undergraduate degree programs, and also specialist certifications. They have what is called a TLC Initiative (teaching, learning, and communication) that gives each student access to a laptop that is included in their tuition.
The Northern Michigan University has a Women’s Center that students can access 24/7 for crisis intervention services that include support for classes, mediation, wellness resources, relationship and dating violence, and abuse. This comprehensive resource ensures that all students have access to tools that include affirmative consent skills and other issues related to safety on campus and beyond. Their programming also includes a program called PEACE which stands for Protect, Educate, Advocate, Counsel, and Empower which works to create programming for students and community in support of survivors of violence, while using training and visibility to prevent interpersonal violence. There are many opportunities for students to volunteer at the Center.
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, which is also known as UTPB, was established in 1973, following authorization by the Texas Legislature in 1969. Due to the growth of the oil industry in the Permian Basin, the school has undergone a significant expansion. Their campus sits on 644 acres of land in the town of Odessa, Texas. They are the only institution of higher learning named after geological formations. Their total student enrollment includes over 7,000 students and a teaching faculty of over 250. Their main campus has a Stonehenge replica that sits beside the visual arts building.
The on-campus organization responsible for the wellness and recreation for students at Permian Basin is known Campus Life. It is here that students can find the resources they need to learn more about sexual assault prevention and safer practices. Campus Life offers a training program called “bystander intervention” that trains people to safely get involved if they believe someone is behaving in a way that is dangerous to the sexual safety of people on campus. They operate this training program under the shared assumption that sexual violence and violence against women is men’s issue. The organization takes steps to help students and staff identify if someone is at risk for violence or seems as if they have been the victim of violence. They are encouraged to get the support they need by sharing about the attack, and getting the medical or psychological treatment they need to heal.
University of West Georgia
The University of West Georgia was established in 1906 when a call was made for the region to have more realistic education programming geared towards rural youth between the ages of 13-21. They zeroed in on the former Bonner Plantation to be the site of what would become the Fourth District Agricultural and Mechanical School. They underwent many changes before taking on their current name. The campus is situated on 645 acres of land in the town of Carrollton, Georgia, which is a mere 45 minutes from the cultural epicenter that is Atlanta, Georgia. They are classified as conducting a high level of research as per the Carnegie Foundation’s Classification Institutions of Higher Education.
The University of West Georgia has a Center for Diversity and Inclusion that promotes safety and advocacy for all gender expressions on campus. They have programming that supports students to gain tools around affirmative consent practices. Following the #metoo movement, there has been more visibility around the problematic nature of implied consent, and this university is working hard to make sure students and staff have what they need to be safe on campus and beyond. Though the Center for Diversity and Inclusion has a focus on understanding bias and difference, they also host sessions that explore communication and consent.
Towson University, which is often referred to as TU, was established in 1866. It was initially called Maryland State Normal School, and was designed to train teachers to be innovative educators. They are part of the University of Maryland System, and now offer four-year degrees within their eight colleges. Over 20,000 students are enrolled in their programming. The US News and World Report Towson eighth among the Best Public Universities in the Northern Region. Their campus is located on 328 acres of land in the town of Towson, Maryland. Their total enrollment includes over 22,000 students, most of which are enrolled in undergraduate programming.
Towson University has transitioned their Women’s Center to become a Women’s Resources Program, which acts as a body to support women on campus. This program is located inside the Center for Student Diversity and is designed to implement programming that enables women to feel safe on campus and learn skills around self-determined practices, including affirmative consent. The Women’s Resource Center is open to all staff and students, both for walk-in support services and also workshops and trainings on ending gender-based violence and affirmative consent. Some of their workshops address mutually consensual practices, beyond the age of consent. There also opportunities for students to receive mentoring, as well as Women in Leadership Training.
University of Montana Western
The University of Montana Western is also called UMW, in 1893, as the Montana State Normal School. The initial goal of the school was to have a center that effectively trained teachers. They then took on the name Western Montana College, and soon after, in the year 2000 they became a member of the Montana University System. Their campus sits in the town of Dillon, Montana. Institutionally, they are committed to engaging the Dillon community and sharing their resources. They offer community events such as the Monday Movie Night, at their movie house called Big Sky Cinema, which costs $3.00. They also have an event hosted by the English department called Dances with Words happens quarterly, and includes a reading by a notable author.
The Community Support Center of Dillon, Montana is a safe space off-campus that is concerned with raising awareness about the issues facing women and gender minorities in and around Dillon where UMW is located. They highlight and support these issues through community events designed to operate at outreach. The Women’s Resource Center which is a program of the The Community Support Center is the only sexual violence prevention organization in southwest Montana, serving both the campus students, faculty and staff, as well as anyone who needs their services in the local community. They host events like the annual “Walk a Mile in her Shoes” where participants complete exercises aimed to develop empathy for survivors of sexual violence.
University of Hawaii-West Oahu
The University of Hawai’i West O’ahu (OHWO) was established in 1976 and is part of the ten branch University of Hawaii System. They have been entirely accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges since 1981. Their campus is located in the town of Kapolei, Hawaii. They just moved to their new site which is only five miles west of where they used to be, beside Leeward Community College. They have an active student life and many organizations and clubs to choose from, including the Accounting Club and the Student National Education Association. They have a student to faculty ratio of 24:1.
The University of Hawaii-West Oahu takes affirmative consent seriously. Their on-campus Women’s Center is an active hub that is not only designed to support women and LGBTQ students but also acts as a safe space to learn about affirmative consent. A video called Know Your IX (referring to Title IX, federal legislation that covers sexual assault on campus) can be found on the website for the Women’s Center. They also offer a program called PAU (Prevention, Awareness, Understanding) Violence Against Women Program which provides training opportunities for students to dive into issues discourse on relationship violence. The training is from the perspective of healing and advocacy, which engages tools for students to learn how to use words when asking for consent instead of relying on applied consent.
Rowan University was established in 1923 with the original name Glassboro Normal School. In the 1930s they became The New Jersey State Teachers College at Glassboro. It was not until the 1970s that they expanded their programming to go beyond teacher training and offer comprehensive academic options, adding an emphasis on business and communications. Their campus is situated on 200 acres of land in Glassboro, New Jersey, with additional locations in Camden and Stratford. The entire school is comprised of 12 distinct schools and colleges. They have over 19,000 students enrolled in all of their programming. They show up in many rankings from the US News and World Report.
Rowan University offers is committed creating opportunities for students to practice and understand affirmative consent to keep students safe on campus and beyond. They have an active Women’s Center, and their tagline is Social Justice, Inclusion, and Conflict Resolution. They created a campaign called “It’s On Us” that is used to enforce the idea that everyone on campus is responsible for creating a safe environment. They have a video on the Women’s Center’s website that features students, faculty, staff, and sports faculty explaining that it’s on everyone to ensure the safety of each other. This particular campaign addresses all of the ramifications of implied consent as well the differences between other types of consent.
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, also known as MCLA, was established 1894 as North Adams Normal School, which later became the State Teachers College of North Adams. They took on their current name in 1997, which reflected their liberal arts focus within the State University System of Massachusetts. They are part of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. Their campus is located in North Adams, Massachusetts, and is situated on 105 acres of land. Student life is active on this campus and includes two student publications, a literary magazine, and a radio station. They also have a faculty publication and a student-run TV show.
The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is the home to the Susan B. Anthony Women’s Center, a comprehensive source of activities, support, and advocacy related to women’s empowerment and self-determination. A key to safety for all students on campus is creating discourse around affirmative consent, which is something MCLA has taken very seriously. They work against ideas of implied consent, ensuring that students have tools to unpack types of consent, regardless of the age of consent. Their Sexual Violence Policy and Information site highlight the campus resources available for survivors of sexual assault, while also defining consent and it’s nuances.
North Carolina Central University
North Carolina Central University, which is referred to by many as simply Central, was established in 1910 as a Historically Black public university. James E. Shepard founded the school with the original name National Religious Training School and Chautauqua for the Colored Race. Chautauqua refers to an educational movement designed by and for students of color. Their campus is situated in the heart of Durham, North Carolina, just three miles from Downtown. They are a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Total student enrollment is just above 9,000, which includes bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral students. They are a member of the University of North Carolina System.
North Carolina Central University has a history of forward thinking and prioritizing representation, so it is no surprise that they have worked hard to develop systems around affirmative consent. They have an active Women’s Center that supports many initiatives related to eradicating interpersonal violence. One of their projects is called HBCU HAVEN, which stands for Helpers and Advocates for Violence Ending Now, a culturally competent advocacy project that not only supports survivors of violence, but ensures educational awareness for students, faculty, and staff who engage educational awareness. They provide resources related to informed consent and interpersonal violence in relatable language on their website.
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University was established in 1871 with the original name The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. In 1963 they took on their current name. They are a land grant, sea grant, and space grant school, and they are also a senior military college. They are one of six universities in the country who have a volunteer Corps of Cadets who work alongside civilian undergraduates. They have one of the largest campuses of any college or university in the country. It includes over 5,500 acres of land in the town of College Station, Texas. On the campus, you will find the George Bush Presidential Library. Their student body includes nearly 70,000 students. They have an active student life that engages the diverse interests of the student body.
Texas A&M University offers many resources to ensure that students have a toolkit to access the effective skills to practice affirmative consent in interpersonal relationships. Within the Umbrella of their Offices of the Dean of Student Life, their Women’s Resource Center is an accessible site for women and gender minorities to get support, and also self-advocacy skills. The #metoo movement has brought to light the fact that implied consent is not enough, and on university campuses, it is imperative for students to learn why consent is essential for the health and safety of each student. They offer support for survivors of sexual violence, as well as resources for students to learn verbal consent skills.
Murray State University
Murray State University, also known as MSU, was established in 1922. It was initially a school that was used to train teachers and called Murray State Normal School. They are now a four-year public school ranked for 26 years in a row by the US News and World Report as a Top Regional University. Their campus is situated on 258 acres of land in the town of Murray, Kentucky, and they also have extended campuses in the towns of Henderson, Hopkinsville, Paducah, and Madisonville. Their total student enrollment is close to 10,500, which includes both undergraduates and graduates.
Murray State University makes it a point to prioritize and value an education around affirmative consent and ensure that such concepts are as critical as the academic coursework that brought students to the institution. They have a comprehensive set of resources and imperatives that reviews and standardizes practices around different types of consent, ensuring that students have verbal tools for self-determination around sexual activities that go beyond implied consent. The #metoo movement has been effective in putting a spotlight on the need for more tools and language around these practices, and though Murray State has always had an active Women’s Center that supported these values, they have upped their game in recent times.
What is Affirmative Consent?
The difference between implied consent and affirmative consent has been making news lately, as so many people are being publicly called out for their inappropriate sexual behavior. So what is affirmative consent? Most basically, implied consent is the idea that if someone does not say NO to something, they must be okay with it. Affirmative consent moves the line of acceptability closer to home, stating that “only yes means yes.” An analogy that is used often to understand the types of consent is that of serving someone tea. If you ask if a friend wants tea, you would only make them some if they said yes. If you asked and they said nothing, you wouldn’t make it for them, hand it to them, wait for them to drink it, and get mad if they chose not to. They never even said they wanted it! So what is affirmative consent? Making tea at teatime – and not any other time.
Why is Consent Important?
One of the issues that sex educators run into a lot is that for college-aged people, affirmative consent and types of consent have never been openly discussed. To stick with the analogy, they have never talked about the best way to have tea with someone. What’s more is they have never had a really good cup of tea, where there were many teas to choose from, and everyone knew what kind of tea they liked. They haven’t talked about the best way to decline going out to tea with someone, or how to say they only want a half a cup of tea. They worry how it might look if they want to add more hot water and have more tea. Not knowing or having a place to ask about these kinds of scenarios means that trial and error is the first attempt at learning these subjects with others.
What Does Affirmative Consent Look Like in College Policy?
Many schools prefer to not broach the subject, assuming falsely that if these students have reached the age of consent, and are choosing to engage sexually, they must resource themselves, on campus or not. It is not enough to acknowledge the existence of a sexual assault awareness month. Because of this, some schools take a different approach. Affirmative consent clauses in student conduct handbooks are a simple step that schools can take. That way, schools acknowledge that yes means yes, no means no. It’s a subtle but powerful difference in college sexual assault prevention. What is even more effective still, is having an on-campus resource center that offers safer spaces for these conversations, and even trainings on how to employ and teach these lessons on campus.