Original article published here
WA’S most prestigious university plans to use a contentious online course to teach students how to recognise and obtain sexual consent.
The University of WA has confirmed it will introduce Consent Matters, an online course which uses animated stick figures to illustrate what is and what is not consent to sex.
News that some universities in other States have made it compulsory for students to pass the course to be able to graduate provoked outrage this week.
A spokeswoman said UWA would introduce Consent Matters as part of its sexual health and relationships education strategy, but there were no plans to make it compulsory “at this stage”.
She said the university’s residential colleges were likely to use the online modules before they were offered more broadly across the campus.
WA’s other four universities said they were not using the Consent Matters course, designed by London company Epigeum, though several were rolling out consent training in response to a Human Rights Commission report which found one in five students had been sexually harassed in a university setting in 2016.
National Union of Students women’s officer Kate Crossin said the program was a cheap alternative to evidence-based courses that could change campus behaviour.
“It isn’t a proper solution,” she said. “It’s a cheap, bandaid approach.”
Cowan MP Anne Aly, a former university professor who has developed sexual harassment training, criticised the online course as a “tick-the-box” exercise.
“While I think it may go some way to raising awareness … it certainly will not change behaviour,” she said.
UWA student guild president Megan Lee said consent training should be made compulsory for all students.
“The Guild thinks it is positive that the university is engaging with this issue and would like to see the university striving to exceed the national standards for education prevention,” she said.
The UWA spokeswoman said Consent Matters was designed to be used with workshops and face-to-face training.
“It is rarely used as a stand-alone resource,” she said.