UCD’s Student Union had to cancel classes on sexual consent due to a lack of interest by the Student Body.
Only twenty students attended the classes out of a student population of over 30,000. UCDSU said that “The Students’ Union have spent €1,800 on trialling consent workshops during the last 12 months. Over this period, attendance has been generally poor.”
The classes were originally announced in February 2016 as part of the universities #NotAskingForIt campaign and ran in the second semester of last year and during the Autumn term. The classes were introduced following allegations that a group of 200 male students were sharing nude photographs of female students without their permission. These allegations were later found to be false.
UCD SU Welfare Officer Róisín O’Mara explained that although the SU has cancelled the current classes the Union was currently looking at “different ways to introduce the topic of consent.”
In comparison to DCU, Sarah Kavanagh, chairperson of the Feminist society said that it is difficult to get people to willingly attend classes like these, as the people that are interested in the classes already know what consent means and people who need to learn are very difficult to convince.
When asked if FemSoc had any plans themselves to start classes on consent, Kavanagh said that they are planning to have talks during Freshers week instead, saying that they want to “get the conversation going straight away, so that’s what we plan to do in future years, get it right in the first week at the refresher talk.”
Kavanagh believes that generally, DCU’s students have quite a good understanding of consent and that “it is a conversation that is happening…” however we “still have a lot to go… we could widen the scope of the audience, get lads that wouldn’t usually talk about this type of thing, get them to talk about it.”
While in Trinity College Dublin SU President Kieran McNulty said that nearly 400 students had attended consent workshops during fresher’s week. McNulty added that it was the intention of the SU to run similar workshops next September.