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Islanders Night Out Promotes Consent Culture to University Students

October 20, 2017

Islanders Night Out

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – To learn how they can be a part of the solution in addressing sexual violence on campus, 400 Islanders attended Islanders Night Out. During the event, students had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Keith Edwards, an advocate of ending rape culture on college campuses, on detangling the miseducation surrounding informed consent. Islanders Night Out was brought to campus again this year by the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health and was hosted by the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Division of Student Engagement and Success (SEAS) on Oct. 19 at the University Center. Once known separately as Girls Night Out and Guys Night Out, the two have combined into one event for the first time.

“It’s important that we have an open dialogue about these issues impacting communities across the country,” said Angela Walker, SEAS Associate Dean of Students Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “By providing opportunities for these conversations, students learn how to take action against sexual violence while promoting a healthy respect for others.”

Edwards is a speaker and educator on sexual violence prevention, men’s identity and social justice education. Over the past 15 years, Edwards has spoken at more than 100 colleges and universities, presented more than 100 programs at national conferences and wrote more than 15 articles or book chapters on his areas of expertise.

The goal of Edwards’ speech was to not only speak about informed consent but to also call the students to action to inform their peers. Edwards says “consent” means an affirmative “yes” is freely given and that “informed” means the person is able to give consent – for example, someone who is a minor, unconscious or highly intoxicated cannot give informed consent. Edwards went beyond talking about how to support those who survived sexual assault by helping create a culture that prevents sexual violence in the first place.

“I’m here to talk to all the people who they’re going to talk to. I want to educate them and understand the issue. I want them to have the passion, and believe they can make a difference,” said Edwards. “If they take that forward and talk to their friends, they will absolutely make a difference.”

In talking about the misunderstandings around consent culture, Edwards compared it to people often learning that those with bigoted beliefs are misinformed. According to him, it’s the exact opposite of being misinformed.

“People are educated, or miseducated, by culture and come to those beliefs,” said Edwards. “To think of ourselves as miseducated [on consent culture] changes how we approach our unlearning.”

At Islanders Night Out, students interacted with campus and community resources, such as I-ADAPT, Inclusive Islander Network, the University Counseling Center, the University Police Department, the Men and Women’s Clinic, the Women’s Shelter of South Texas and more. In addition to learning about consent culture, students also took home prizes and event t-shirts.

Island University leadership has taken multiple steps to promote consent on campus. Students attend Summer Orientation Safe Living presentations, and Title IX trainings are available to student groups and student employees. Throughout the academic year, there are various campaigns that take place on campus, like Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, Denim Day, Go Purple Blitz, No More and Consent is Sexy.

In the University’s ongoing efforts to educate students on topics such as domestic violence, sexual assault and bystander intervention, the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health has been a valuable sponsor is helping to bring the topics to Islanders in a fun yet educational way.