Campus conversation on sexual assault and hook-up culture


The Campanile in November, taken from the southeast.

Willa Colville

One of the primary goals of the Green Dot organization is continuing the conversation on campus of consent and assault. Thursday, April 5, as part of Green Dot Action Week, students and faculty gathered for a “Campus Conversation” in Parks Library. The event, organized by Green Dot intern Sydney Swanson, involved group discussions and activities.

Along with Swanson, Green Dot coordinator Jazzmine Brooks and Senior Lecturer for human development and family studies Amy Popillion, spoke and facilitated conversations regarding sexual assault.

About 10 round tables were filled with students and faculty, there to participate in the event. At each table sat at least one facilitator. Over an hour and a half, the groups partook in three activities.

For the first activity, each participant filled out a survey. The survey listed situations and asked the reader to rate on a scale of one to 10 how comfortable they would be in said situation. Some of the situations were as follows:

  • Physical actions (i.e. nudging your shoulder, touching your hand in an intimate manner) are made toward you when you are alone.
  • You are asked to hook up after first meeting someone.
  • You are approached at a public event (concert, party, etc.).
  • You are approached in an intimate location (library, coffee shop, etc.).

After filling out the survey, participants exchanged surveys anonymously. In small groups, facilitators asked participants to compare their own answers to the one they received. Groups discussed how different cultures and backgrounds could affect how comfortable a person is in a situation. As a large group, Brooks facilitated a conversation on today’s “hook-up” culture.

“For some people, their bodies are their temples but, we don’t openly wear a badge that says that,” Brooks said.

The conversation then shifted to fear of rejection that many young adults face. Popillion told a story about a mother giving advice to her daughter. In the story, the mother says to her daughter that if a boy asks her on a date, she should think long and hard before saying no, because it took a lot of courage for the boy to ask her.

Popillion gets into the idea that many young adults do not want to say no because “it’s the nice thing to do.” It is important to establish boundaries and not let anyone cross the line, according to the facilitators. 

In a second activity, questions were posted for participants to reflect on and share their thoughts. Among the questions were: 

  • Do you know your style of communication?
  • Do you speak up readily when you hear something you disagree with, or do you prefer to listen to all sides? Do you remain quiet or speak up only if the conversation is going in a direction that you can’t live with?
  • Do you prefer to give directions and make decisions without a lot of input from others? Or do you prefer a more collaborative approach?
  • Are you comfortable sharing power? Or do you prefer relationships with a hierarchical power structure in place?

This activity was designed to get participants thinking about their own communication style and how it may differ from another person’s. 

“Sometimes we think we [know our communication style] but, we don’t always really know,” Popillion said. 

The facilitators transitioned the conversation to gender socialization and intersectionality. As a large group, participants talked about double standards, sexual scripts, the expectation to please others, and gender equity. 

Participants also brought up the different layers of socialization from sexuality to socioeconomic status. 

In the final activity, each table was given an envelope with a specific scenario. The scenarios differed in topics from dating apps to coming out to transsexuality. Participants shared their thoughts on the given scenarios and discussed how they felt.  

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault visit for resources and information on how to report an incident.