PEI

'Consent means choice': UPEISU initiative hopes to reach more students

Consent is the word of the week at UPEI, with pub coasters and posters about consent as well as a number of discussions and workshops being held for the school's second annual consent week.

'Choice is a word that a lot of people can understand as opposed to consent'

These coasters will be distributed at the UPEI pub this week. Sarah MacEachern, vice-president of student life, says the student union will be working with Our Turn UPEI to develop more programs around consent and sexual assault on campus. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

Consent is the word of the week at UPEI, with pub coasters and posters about consent as well as a number of discussions and workshops being held for the school's second annual consent week.

"I'd say the openness of people's minds has changed a lot. It's something that they're more willing to discuss," said Sarah MacEachern, vice-president of student life at the UPEI Student Union.

MacEachern said the goal this year was to better include LGBT students and the school's growing international population in the initiative. 

"We wanted to make sure that the vocabulary we were using was easily understood to those who may not speak English as a first language," she said.

'Let your voice be heard'

"We're just ensuring that people know that consent means choice. Choice is a word that a lot of people can understand as opposed to consent."

'There's been a lot of growth within these discussions.... I'd say the openness of people's minds has changed a lot. It's something that they're more willing to discuss,' says Sarah MacEachern, vice-president of student life at the student union. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

Second year international student Anjola Suleman took part in the initiative for the first time, and wrote a letter to support survivors of sexual assault. 

"I wrote about voice … it's good to let your voice be heard. It's good to share your story."

'I was so excited when I saw something like this and I decided to write a letter,' says Anjola Suleman, a second year student from Nigeria. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

Partnered with Pride

The student union also partnered with Pride UPEI to ensure LGBT students were included.

Pride UPEI co-leader Buzz Caravan said she's noticed that the university has become more inclusive over time.

"Each year I feel like they've grown and included more things … so I really hope it continues to grow and get better, and I believe it will."

'Language is very important because when you're talking to a group of people and you say something, only like half the people could feel like they're included in what you say,' says Buzz Caravan, co-lead of Pride UPEI. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

MacEachern said the student union plans to partner with Our Turn UPEI, a national student group focused on sexual violence prevention, to develop further programs around consent on campus.

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About the Author

Isabella Zavarise is a reporter with CBC in P.E.I. You can contact her at isabella.zavarise@cbc.ca