Enough is Enough: Steps SOAS SU are taking to tackle sexual violence

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Over the last few years, more universities have begun offering students sexual consent training, with a survey even suggesting students think there should be a compulsory test on understanding sexual consent when they begin university. At the SOAS Student Union (SU) sexual harassment and violence is something they have been tackling for many years. Whilst the SU aims to provide support for those experiencing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), they are also hoping to change the culture of impunity and silence on campus.

This Sexual Violence Awareness Week, we’ve teamed up with the Student Union to bring you an extensive guide to their Enough is Enough campaign, the support they offer and how you can access it.

What is Enough is Enough?

Now in its sixth year, Enough is Enough is a campaign to tackle issues around sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). In 2013/14, a motion was passed in support of the National Union of Students (NUS) campaign, ‘I heart consent’. The SOAS Student Union then developed this into the Enough is Enough campaign.

I heart consent event at SOAS

In 2015/16 the SOAS Board of Trustees agreed to five years of funding for the SU to deliver mandatory consent workshops for all SOAS students. Following this, new funding was agreed for a further three years, which included a dedicated member of staff joining the Enough is Enough campaign to ensure consistency and reliability for students wanting to access support.

The workshops are now delivered to all incoming students, both undergraduate and postgraduate. The SU also run a Welfare Contact programme, which trains students to be active bystanders. These students are points of call during SU-organised parties (or other events) for anyone experiencing abuse or harassment.

However, that’s not where the campaign ends, it aims to:

  •  Raise awareness of SGBV on campus and educate students about consent
  • Make reporting systems and support available to all students who need them
  • Understand the structures that uphold ‘rape culture’ and how this perpetuates SGBC on campus
  • Give students the tools to create a ‘consent culture’ on campus and in their lives off campus.

What are the Student Union doing?

The work the SU do in tackling sexual and gender-based violence can be split into two categories, consent workshops and awareness raising campaigns.

Consent workshops

Consent workshops are delivered during Welcome Week to all incoming students. These workshops are peer-led, with students trained as workshop facilitators and coordinating the programme delivery.

The workshops aim to educate all SOAS students on SGBV, and to develop a consent culture where all students are aware of acceptable behaviour, the procedures for reporting and how they can access support. These workshops are designed to look at SGBV from an intersectional, survivor-centred perspective.

Awareness Raising Campaigns

Along with these workshops, Enough is Enough also runs awareness campaigns such as 16 Days of Activism, Anti-Spiking Campaign and collaborations with specialist survivor-led organisation ‘Not the Only One’.

Through ‘Not the Only One’ students can attend survivor consent workshops. These can be instead of, or in addition to the mandatory SU consent workshops. They focus on exploring consent in a survivor friendly way and providing a space to talk about what it means to you, and how you can recognise when something is not consensual. You can find out more about the work they do here.

There are currently four types of survivor consent workshops available to students:

  • Survivor consent workshop (open to all survivor students)
  • People of colour only survivor consent workshop
  • Women only survivor consent workshop
  • LGBTQIA+ only survivor consent workshop

If you’d like to sign up to any of the consent workshops above you can do so here.

Throughout Sexual Violence and Awareness Week, Enough is Enough will be running a number of different events. They are working with different societies such as the LGBTQIA+ Society and Disabled Students Society, as well as the liberation officers elected at the SU. Keep an eye on their Instagram for details of the events they will be running.

Survivor Support Group

Since January, Not the Only One has been providing a survivor support group in collaboration with the SU. The group provides a safe space where survivors can come together, share experiences and explore themes that affect everyone. It is open to students of any gender, who have experienced any form of sexual violence, including sexual abuse in childhood.

The group is ideal for anyone who would like to have regular and continued support with the same group. The sessions are run by two trained facilitators from Not the Only One and take place fortnightly on Wednesday evenings. The sessions are currently being run online via Zoom, however, it is hoped the sessions can be run on campus in person once the COVID situation improves.

If you’d like to join the group or have any questions you can book a chat with the facilitators here.

How can you get involved?

There are several ways you can get involved in Enough is Enough:

  • Join the volunteer mailing list
  • Become a workshop facilitator
  • Become a Welfare Contact

If you’re interested in learning more about trauma informed workshop facilitation and how to become an active bystander, fill out this form. If you have any questions about Enough is Enough or the how else you can get involved, email su-consent@soas.ac.uk.

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