Students gathered Tuesday to practice sexual consent by building fake pizzas together in an event called “Sex is Like Pizza.”
Courtney Carver, the mental health promotion coordinator for the Health Education Resource Center, used pieces of felt representing pizza toppings to compare the activity to consent.
When ordering a pizza, Carver said, everyone involved must consider his or her own personal tastes. She urged attendees not to cave to pressure when assembling pizzas, telling them all opinions must be met. If one person did not want pineapple, for instance, his or her pizza should not have pineapple.
“You can be intimate in different ways with different people,” Carver said. “There’s no one way to be sexual. Context is a really important factor.”
Values differ from individual to individual, Carver said. Some draw the line at holding hands or brushing legs, and she stressed the importance of acknowledging and respecting boundaries.
“Knowing what you don’t want is especially important,” Carver said. “Making these choices together is just like consent. You’re doing this together.”
Still, not everyone is comfortable explicitly asking for consent.
“Asking questions is in our nature,” Carver said. “Why is it not for consent?”
Carver also noted that consent is “active” and therefore subject to change on a whim. Saying “yes” does not make the withdrawal of said consent any less valid. Everybody has the right to refuse without being held accountable for contradictory words or actions.
Trained in bystander intervention, Carver explained various ways to help in situations where another is visibly uncomfortable. Should an individual find themselves witnessing such situations, Carver implored them to “assume personal responsibility” in any of five ways – by distracting the one making the advances, handling the situation discreetly, finding an excuse to get the uncomfortable person away, finding others to help or bluntly setting the advancer straight.
Only two or three incidents of rape or sexual assault reach the University Police Department each year, despite various resources available on and off campus. Carter urged attendees to report incidents to the UPD and the Charleston Police Department. Both are required to alert Student Standards but not vice versa, as Student Standards can keep the incident from the police unless the victims press charges on their assailants.
Students, whether they are victims or friends of victims, can also open up confidentially to the Counseling Center in person or over the phone. During off-hours, the Counseling Center will direct callers to one of three hotlines – the Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Service, Life Links for psychological crises and Housing, Outreach, Prevention and Education for domestic violence and abuse.
The Eastern pharmacy sells multiple forms of birth control and provides discounts on contraceptives for members of Rubber Lovers. Sarah Bush Lincoln, the local hospital, runs a walk-in clinic accessible via Panther Shuttle.
The Counseling Center can be reached at 217-581-3413, the CPD at 217-348-5221 and the UPD at 217-581-3212 for non-emergencies.
In the case of an emergency, call 911.
Mallory Kutnick can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]