St Chad’s heralds Good Lad and Active Bystander workshops

The following is an article provided by Palatinate.

St Chad’s proclaimed itself the first college to put on two workshops for their new intake during this year’s Freshers Week.

One workshop was publicised as a Good Lad workshop and the other was focused on Bystander Intervention.

In a tweet, St Chad’s JCR announced the success of the workshops, which the College then retweeted:

“Great afternoon rolling out Active Bystander and Good Lad workshops to our freshers!

“Proud to be the only Durham college so far to do so.”

The workshops were in the format of non-judgemental discussion groups which were led by the College welfare team and other members of the JCR.

Chairs were positioned in a circle and those leading the workshop stood in the middle.

In conversation with Palatinate, attendees praised both workshops.

Ollie Griffiths, a first-year at St Chad’s College, spoke of the usefulness of the Good Lad workshop.

“It made me analyse the behaviour of ‘lads’ in a group and made me realise that sometimes what may seem like a sociable activity to a group of guys may be [seen as] offensive and harassment by other people around.

“I would say that all the guys in the workshop found them really thought-provoking and useful.”

Praise was also given to the Active Bystander workshop by Evie Griffiths, a first-year at St Chad’s College:

“I thought that the active bystander [workshop] was really good as it gave you the confidence to intervene in a way that is safe to you as well as to the target.”

‘Lad culture’ has risen in prominence in the last few years along with an increasing awareness and discussion of issues around sexual consent.

Last year Durham Students’ Union (Durham SU) passed a motion which resolved that the Durham SU would “state the need for the University to introduce compulsory consent workshops from September 2015 during induction.”

Joanna Gower, Welfare Officer at St Cuthbert’s Society and one of the draftees of the Durham SU’s zero tolerance policy, affirmed that the motion meant that the Durham SU had to act.

“I, along with Esther Green and last year’s community officer, wrote up the zero tolerance policy for sexual violence.

“It was passed, meaning they do have to do something about it.”

Given the fact that compulsory consent workshops have been mandated – and actively called for – by the Durham SU, which represents all Durham students, some have questioned why similar workshops have not already been made compulsory across all colleges.

Both Oxford University and Cambridge University established compulsory sexual consent workshops for incoming students last October.

Dan Carter, a second-year student from St Cuthbert’s Society, called for their introduction at Durham:

“I think the University should make these workshops compulsory at all colleges, so that new students develop an appropriate insight into what life should be like as a University student.”

An anonymous Chad’s student agreed saying: “Given how well both workshops were received at St Chad’s, it would be sensible for such workshops to be available on a University wide basis.

“I think after the resolution last year, people were expecting a similar initiative across the University which has not as of yet arrived.”

However, Joanna Gower went on to explain the difficulties of putting on the workshops immediately.

“If people are improperly trained to talk about consent and rape, it can actually make the situation a lot worse and can upset a lot of people in the workshops who have been targets themselves.

“That means that, as frustrating as it may be, until the Union can arrange the very complex training processes, we will not be able to run any consent things on a large scale.”

A Sexual Violence Task Force has been set up by the University and is chaired by the former Chief Psychologist at the Ministry of Justice, Professor Graham Towl, now Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Durham.

In a comment sent to Palatinate, Professor Towl said: “During Induction Week a number of events were planned around respect for others.

“[The workshops] were well attended and the feedback has been very positive.

He also hinted that the University might be looking to change its policies going forward.

“In terms of general crime rates, Durham is one of the safest cities in the country.

“However, at Durham University we see no room for complacency and are looking afresh at our policies and practices in relation to sexual violence.”

Photograph: Durham University