Understanding the Different Forms of Consent

In the past two years that I have been a student at Geneseo I have not talked about consent as much as we did in Dr. McCoy’s class the other week. I found it helpful to talk about what consent is and how it is more than just sexual consent. Growing up I never talked about consent. When I started college at SUNY Geneseo, they show all their freshman and sports teams a video about sexual consent. The video compares consent to offering someone a cup of tea, and shows us how we should think about sexual consent in this way (if someone does not want a cup of tea, do not force it down their throat, etc).  

The tea video is the first way I remember being taught about consent until Dr. McCoy’s class. At first, I only thought about consent in the one way, I was unaware that there were many different forms of consent. Then, in Dr. McCoy’s class, we started to talk about how consent is more complex, and it is taken in a broader sense. After class, I looked up the definition of consent, because I wanted to know even more about what it is. The Dictionary website defined consent as “To permit, approve, or agree; comply or Yield (often followed by to or an infinitive)”. The website even gave examples of ways consent is used. One example, given by Emily Shire, says, “Since when is a loud noise the only sign of resistance and lack of consent?” This got me thinking more about how we consent with our roommate situations: you have to consent to play music, opening a window, shutting off a light, etc. This is one example of how consent is more than just sexual.

Dr. McCoy gave us a handout in class from the SUNY policy about the definition of consent. By reading this handout I still got the idea that we were going to talk about consent in the sexual reference. The hand out goes into detail how it “is clear” saying that “Affirmative consent is a clear, unambiguous, knowing, informed, and voluntary agreement between all participants engaged in sexual activity…” After reading this handout, Dr. McCoy started talking about how consent is more than sex, it can range from sexual, to asking a roommate if it’s okay to open a window, or to consent to go to class and participating.

Consent in class between a professor and their students’ is interesting to think about. In Jessica’s blog post she asks the question “Should professors ask their students for their consent when it comes to things like randomly calling on them in class or as students of the college do, we automatically give our consent when we pay our tuition bills and register for our classes?” In response to this question, I think that some professors do automatically think that if you take their class you are consenting to participate, otherwise, you get a bad grade in their class. In my past classes this is exactly how I felt, but in Dr. McCoy’s class she gives us the opportunity to consent when it came to giving her our cellphone numbers’, and giving us the option to read aloud. We have the option to say no at any point in class if we feel uncomfortable.

It can be stressful to go to class and not know if you will be called on or not. Some people can dread going to a class or even drop out of a class because they don’t feel comfortable being randomly called on to read aloud. I think teachers should receive the consent of their students to call on them randomly, or they could only call on students with their hands raised. I’ve had a professor who has called me out in class because I didn’t participate that day and made me talk about a topic I didn’t want to talk about. Due to this, it made me uncomfortable to be forced to participate in this way. I never consented to being called out in class, and I believe that this should be addressed by all professors at SUNY Geneseo to ask for consent to call out their students’, or get the consent to make them randomly read aloud.

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