Sexual health and consent

Male student puts his arm around a female student; she doesn't like it
Hand touches someone else's body
Richard Rood

We strive to be a place where everyone feels safe. We want to cultivate an Erasmian community that operates fundamentally on the grounds of mutual respect between all its members - staff, students and guests. Consequently, any form of unwanted sexual behavior, harassment or violence is not tolerated within our institution. Several initiatives have been set up to tackle unwanted behaviour.

Research commissioned by Amnesty showed that 1 in 10 students has experienced rape during their study period in the Netherlands. Erasmus Magazine featured a number of articles on this topic, focussing on our university.

These numbers by Amnesty are unacceptable. We cannot be a proud university community and cannot fully reach our Erasmian values when our students - female, male, nonbinary, cisgender, transgender, queer, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersexual, pansexual, asexual; all identifications - are not experiencing social safety and sexual health.

Our university is committed to being welcoming, respectful and inclusive. We continuously work to create an inclusive work and study environment. For everyone.

Sexually unwanted behaviour

So, let it be clear that what is shown in the video is what we do not want for our students. But what do we want when it comes to our students’ social safety and sexual health?

Sexual health

According to the World Health Organization, sexual health is: “A state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.” (WHO, 2006).

In this definition, we see multiple dimensions:

  1. Sexual health is not only something physical, but it is also about emotional, mental and social well-being.

  2. Sexual health is not only about the absence of negative aspects, but also about the presence of positive aspects.

  3. Sexual health is not only an individual thing, but also very much something interpersonal and relational.

(Erasmus Love Lab)

Male student checking out female student
Richard Rood

Sexual consent

“Sexual activity requires consent, which is defined as positive, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement to engage in specific sexual activity throughout a sexual encounter.

  • Consent cannot be inferred from the absence of a "no"; a clear "yes," verbal or otherwise, is necessary.
  • Consent to some sexual acts does not imply consent to others, nor does past consent to a given act imply present or future consent.
  • Consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter and can be revoked at any time.
  • Consent cannot be obtained by threat, coercion, or force. Agreement under such circumstances does not constitute consent.
  • Consent cannot be obtained from someone who is asleep or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated, whether due to alcohol, drugs, or some other condition. A person is mentally or physically incapacitated when that person lacks the ability to make or act on considered decisions to engage in sexual activity. Engaging in sexual activity with a person whom you know - or reasonably should know - to be incapacitated constitutes sexual misconduct.”

(Yale; available at: http://smr.yale.edu/definitions-sexual-misconduct-consent-and-harassment).

Sexual violence

When we talk about sexual violence, we talk about every type of intimate or sexual activity that goes against someone’s free will and desire at that moment. It can be with a total stranger, or with someone known to you, or your dating partner. It can happen physically - in real life - and it can happen online.

What we do

We created an action plan against sexual violence, see below. We are raising more awareness through dialogue, trainings, and workshops on boundaries, communication and consent. These activities are aimed at dismantling stigma around these topics and to make students aware of their own boundaries, how to respect those of others and how to talk about them in group spheres. 

Our action plan against sexual violence contains a.o. topical training for students and staff, workshops on consent and an awareness campaign about sexually unwanted behaviour of which the video on this webpage is one of the aspects. This video is shown during Eureka week (the introduction period for new students) and is accompanied by a.o. posters, leaflets, online posts.

The goal is to inform our new students on the values EUR adheres to concerning consent, encourage them to think critically about their own wishes and boundaries and those of others, and show the importance of communicating about this.

We have a network of confidential counsellors who are there for students and staff members. There is a EUR complaints procedure for inappropriate behaviour to report unwanted conduct. 

Furthermore we have a ‘Meldcode Huiselijk Geweld en Kindermishandeling’ (Domestic violence and child abuse protocol) and a ‘Richtlijn voor leidinggevenden bij Agressie en geweld’ (Guideline for managers regarding Aggression and violence).

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