This year the TCSA, in partnership with Trent University’s Health Services, has launched an overarching campaign entitled Safe, Sexy and Consensual.

For the TCSA, the goal is to promote safer sex through Cover Me, challenge rape culture through Consent is Sexy, and open dialogues surrounding what consent means through No Means No.

It’s all very encompassing, if I may say so myself, but there is always room for improvement.

In the future, one can only envision the TCSA adopting other meaningful initiatives that address, more specifically, drug facilitated sexual assault, STI and STD awareness, and sex positivity under this overarching campaign.

The TCSA has done a lot of great work under this campaign thus far. Whether it be distributing helpful resources during Sexual Assault Awareness presentations (including alcohol and bystander intervention) conducted by Health Services, providing students with safer sex kits in their ISW #BleedGreen tote bags, or having Safe, Sexy, and Consensual coasters featured within local pubs and bars here in Peterborough.

Most recently, the TCSA has surveyed more than 100 Trent students during ISW on what consent means to them through creating a ‘Wall of Consent’ on Bata Podium and hosting a Consent is Sexy Ceilie Night on campus. The responses range from “Approval” to “Do what you want with my body” to “A sober YES.”

If you would like to view these students’ opinions feel free to pass by the bulletin board adjacent to the Ceilie Pub.

Overall these efforts have successfully opened dialogues (such as this one we are currently having right now), and promoted the fact that consent has one meaning (legally speaking that is), the voluntary agreement of someone to engage in any form of sexual activity.

Now Simon, I will provide you with three points that I hope may alleviate your frustration just a little bit.

First, the TCSA acknowledges that no campaign or initiative is perfect. In fact, the TCSA has faced many concerns surrounding other initiatives, such as Accountable Language, which challenges students to be more accountable of the language they use in their day to day life.

Second, unlike Accountable Language, Consent is Sexy was created by another not-for-profit organization to promote conversations around consent and healthy sexuality, while also challenging rape culture in schools, colleges and universities. The initiative was first adopted by a former Women’s Equity Commissioner and now is being used under an overarching mission.

Finally, and most importantly, women at university are the most at risk of being sexually assaulted and there is a whole culture of misogyny on campuses across Canada, also defined as “rape culture”, fostering that violence. In this culture, rape is deemed cool, attractive and…well…sexy.

This is why the TCSA, your students’ union, has strongly promoted a countering initiative with the slogan “Consent is Sexy”. It is not a direct attempt to define what consent really means, as students have already shared their differing, yet unifying, definitions.

It serves to directly combat rape culture before it ever develops here at Trent, and as one student has described it, “It’s young, cool, and easy to relate to.” Does this make a little more sense now?

Thank you Simon for opening the dialogue on what consent means to you. Your voice echoes within the student movement and is very much needed as we continue to promote consent and healthy sexuality on campus. Consent is indeed “mandatory.”

Let your students’ union know more about what you think by being a part of the action! Get involved with the Safe, Sexy and Consensual campaign by joining the Campus Action Team, where you will have many opportunities to create, discuss and plan proactive initiatives under the TCSA on campus. Contact the Vice President Campaigns & Equity at [email protected] for more information.

Editors’ Note: This article is a response to Simon Semchuck’s piece “Dear TCSA: Consent is not sexy, it’s mandatory” which was published in issue three.