BYU students and organizations on campus are educating students about consent.
Elise Mackley works as a peer mentor and said one day, a freshman came to her and shared an experience.
“She had been sexually assaulted and didn’t know it,” Mackley said. Mackley had also been sexually assaulted in the past and said she could have described the same experience word for word.
“There are so many people out there besides me who have this experience and nobody is talking about enough and so I need to talk about it,” Mackley said.
Mackley started the Instagram page, @byusextalks, which works to increase conversations about difficult topics such as sexual assault and consent.
The Title IX Office on campus offers resources on education and response on these topics. “When consent is not present, its sexual assault,” Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Abigail Morrison said.
Morrison said that consent includes all kinds of romantic touch.
“Consent is about communication, it’s a check in, and it’s making sure both people know what they are agreeing to do, and they’re both comfortable doing whatever it is they’re doing,” Morrison said.
Morrison said there can be some misunderstandings when it comes to consent.
“Students will say it’s more about like good physical interactions, like you should be able to just feel the vibe,” Morrison said. “I can just tell you working at the Title IX office: we might not all be as good at feeling the vibes as we think we are and that’s why you really need to develop a good practice of consent because you want to be creating safety for that other person.”
BYU student Rachel Billings is the Vice President of RaYnbow Collective and recently hosted a training on consent. Billings said consent is not just about avoiding harmful relationships, but strengthening healthy ones.
“It’s a tool that you can use to build relationships that are healthier, that last longer,” Billings said.
Billings doesn’t want people to feel bad if they don’t know about consent.
“There’s a whole community of people who want to help you learn about consent and not knowing about consent isn’t shameful, it’s not like you did anything wrong because you don’t know. It just means have a conversation, educate yourself.”
For individuals who want to learn more about consent or think their boundaries have been crossed, information and help can be found at Women’s Services and Resources, CAPS, Sexual Assault Survivor Advocacy Services (SASAS) and the Title IX Office.
In the end, consent can prevent dangerous situations and foster healthy relationships.
“Consent is important because loving people is important and loving people in the ways that they feel loved is kind of the only way that it’s going to work,” Mackley said.