University of Oxford Introduces Mandatory Consent Classes

Sexual assault is a huge problem on university campuses. A survey by the Telegraph showed that one in three female students in the U.K. were sexually assaulted or abused on campus. One in eight male students had been the victim of unwanted groping or advances. Given these statistics, it would seem logical that universities create programs and policies to prevent sexual assault.

Starting with this year’s freshman class, the University of Oxford will now require students to attend mandatory consent classes to combat university sexual assault.

For the past five years, Oxford has offered the classes but they’ve only become compulsory this year. In addition to information about consent, the classes also include the “legal aspects of consent” and general sex-ed.

Orla White, vice president for women at Oxford University’s student union, coordinates the 90-minute workshops and told Mic that, “it’s not really a class; more of a conversation…We’re aiming to break taboos, start a conversation and dispel myths about sexual violence.”

The workshops aim to discuss statistics, common misconceptions and provide factual information in a student-directed atmosphere.

Oxford isn’t the only U.K. university to introduce consent classes. Warwick University and York University have both developed workshops that combat rape culture, victim blaming and toxic masculinity.

These classes sound like a logical and effective way to prevent assault, but they have their detractors.

Warwick University student George Lawlor wrote a seething essay for the Tab in October 2015 expressing that he felt ”overcome by anger” at receiving an invitation to the workshop and the idea that he has “an insufficient understanding of what does and does not constitute consent” is “incredibly hurtful.”

Lawlor called the consent classes a “massive, painful, bitchy slap in the face” and “such a waste of time” because all decent human beings already know what consent is.

I don’t know George Lawlor, but anyone who feels the need to lash at a group of people trying to prevent sexual assault, is sent into a rage by an event invitation, and poses with a “this is not what a rapist looks like” sign, well, that person sounds like someone who could really benefit from consent classes.

Considering how frequently both men and women are sexually assaulted, requiring such workshops seems well worth damaging this young man’s fragile ego — particularly when you consider that college-age men have dangerous ideas on consent and sexual assault.

Nearly one-third of college men say they would force a women to have sex if they could get away with it, according to a report published in Violence and Gender in 2014. However, when the same men were asked if they had any intentions to rape a woman, that number dropped to 13 percent (still a terrifyingly high number).

Essentially, about 20 percent of college men admit they’re willing to rape a woman as long as it’s not called rape. But please, Mr. Lawlor, tell us again how everyone already knows what consent is.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


George L
George Labout a year ago


Simon L
Simon Labout a year ago


Tin Ling L
Tin Ling Labout a year ago


Jim V
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Philippa P
Philippa Powersabout a year ago


Marie W.
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

Michelle Brummer
Michelle Brummerabout a year ago

Thanks for the article. Sadly, classes like these are needed at colleges and universities everywhere.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watolaabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

Karen H.
Karen Habout a year ago

Sorry, Ullrich Mueller, but sex-ed is NOT a topic in schools. The prudish religious right thinks abstinence is the only birth control and everybody should be a virgin until the wedding night. Well, the females should be virgins--men "need" sex, and it's their right to take it when they feel the need.

Ullrich Mueller
Ullrich Muellerabout a year ago

What a shame adults have to be taught to respect other people's privacy. Didn't they go to school before? Shouldn't sex-ed be a topic for relatively young teenagers? Shouldn't respect have been taught from nursery school on?