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OGVPHE holds workshop on intervention before Ivies

April 27, 2023

In preparation for Ivies celebrations this weekend, the Office of Gender Violence Prevention and Health Education (OGVPHE) hosted “Intervening at Ivies,” a workshop focused on consent in practice this past Wednesday night.

“This is another way of just sort of getting out a conversation that I think is more nuanced and giving people more tools to actually think about consent beyond just what the definition is,” Director of Gender Violence Prevention and Health Education Rachel Reinke said.

The OGVPHE wanted to hold the event in tandem with Denim Day and Sexual Assault Awareness Month to provide students with the tools to both understand and combat rape culture on campus. The proximity of Ivies Weekend to Denim Day inspired the OGVPHE to develop “Intervening at Ivies” to bring awareness to issues of consent as they relate to party culture.

“Denim Day happened to coincide with Ivies. This year, they’re in the same week, and that doesn’t always happen, so I think that was the first motivating factor as people are thinking about Ivies—how can we also get them to think about this other really important thing that’s happening?” Reinke said.

On Monday and Tuesday, the OGVPHE tabled in Smith Union in preparation for the event to collect student perspectives of the issue of consent. Based on the feedback the OGVPHE gathered, students appear to agree on definitions of consent but have more varied experiences when asked what makes consent difficult.

“Everyone kind of knows about consent and knows what it is, but when it’s put into practice in a social house basement or [at] a mixer, it seems like there’s some disconnect,” event organizer Aidan Michelow ’25 said.

Many attendees noted that prior to arriving at Bowdoin, they did not have the language to engage in meaningful conversations about sexual violence. Fiona Bor ’25, a programming assistant for the OGVPHE, echoed that sentiment.

“I felt like in high school, I was recognizing these issues of gender violence happening around me, and I didn’t have the language to talk about it.… So in college, I was really motivated to join programs where I [felt] like I could learn more about how to talk about [gender violence] and prevention,” Bor said.

After familiarizing attendees with frameworks for discussing gender violence on college campuses, Reinke walked attendees through three scenarios involving consent that could realistically occur during this weekend’s events. Students applied active bystander intervention principles and shared possible ways to intervene in situations where someone may be in danger of gender violence.

Though “Intervening at Ivies” highlights the importance of consent during Ivies weekend, Reinke noted that lessons learned in conversations like these are important throughout the entire year.

“While yes, it’s nice to have Intervening at Ivies be a name that is really catchy and interesting to people, I think that questions of substances and consent and taking care of each other are happening all year long,” Reinke said.

Attendee Thomas Hall ’25 noted that events like these are important opportunities for growth, especially considering the range of gender violence education students have been exposed to.

“This event was a continuous reminder of the lack of education that my peers and I have on topics like gender violence,” Hall said.

For Bor, seeing students proactively seek the resources and training to address difficult situations involving consent has been a rewarding part of her work with the OGVPHE.

“It’s really encouraging to see people come to these kinds of conversations, when it’s not easy to talk about these topics and it’s really easy to put off talking about these things,” Bor said.


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