Colleges laud success of ‘It Happens Here’ workshops

The following is an article provided by Palatinate.

JCR presidents from some of Durham’s colleges have lauded the presence and success of sexual violence workshops during this year’s Freshers’ Week.

Various colleges, including Van Mildert, St Aidan’s, and St John’s, included sexual violence and consent workshops, run by It Happens Here, as part of their timetable for Freshers’ Week.

The aim of the workshops was to encourage students to think about the reality of sexual consent on campus and to “disrupt rape culture and support those affected by these issues.”

According to a survey carried out in 2010 by the National Union of Students (NUS), 68% of female students will experience some kind of verbal or non-verbal harassment during their time at university, with one in seven becoming a victim of a serious physical or sexual assault.

Lewis Martins, Van Mildert JCR President, told Palatinate that “including It Happens Here in [their] Freshers’ Week was an obvious and easy choice to make.

“Having seen the effort they put into raising awareness of sexual violence at Durham, it was very important for us to show how seriously we take the issue at Van Mildert,” Martins said.

Martins said that the It Happens Here Frep training programme “empowered our team to utilise their positions of responsibility to create a safe atmosphere at Van Mildert, and opened an important dialogue on sexual violence on campus that they engaged with really positively.

“Freshers received a full It Happens Here consent talk, which I have received nothing but praise for. The freshers were incredibly receptive to such a significant topic and many commented that they felt better educated on a subject that hadn’t been properly addressed at school,” Martins said.

Writing in a blog post on It Happens Here’s website, member Gina Cuomo said that “these talks are so important in helping students appreciate what sexual violence looks like in the real world.

“[The workshops] discuss the myths surrounding these issues that just help to perpetuate the false perception of harassment,” she wrote.

“Sexual violence is not about ‘a stranger in a dark alley’ – you are 5 times more likely to be a victim of sexual violence at the hands of your partner than a stranger. 80-90% of targets of serious incidences know their attackers.”

Alice Dee, JCR President at St Aidan’s College, told Palatinate: “We were so grateful to the team at It Happens Here – they were great at accommodating our requests, especially at short notice and when they were so busy!

“We are hoping that the work done this year will pave the way for Durham SU-led consent workshops in future years,” Dee said.

Nikolaus Krahé, JCR President at St John’s College, echoed Martins’ response, stating that “several students commented afterwards that [the workshop] was very informative, as it was the first workshop about this topic that they had attended.”

Image: It Happens Here