The TRU Wellness Centre has always focused on educating and informing students about consent when it comes to sex and communication.
The event took its inspiration from the popular three minute animated video called ‘Tea Consent’ that was designed to clarify the issue of sexual consent by comparing it to having a cup of tea. The narrator repeats in the video –
“If you say, ‘Hey, would you like a cup of tea,’ and they say, ‘Uh, you know, I’m not really sure,’ then you can make them a cup of tea, or not, but be aware they might not drink it. And if they don’t drink it then – and this is the important part – don’t make them drink it.”
It is a tea-party but not the one where you gossip at. Instead, this tea party honours the survivors and focuses on comforting them. The event’s major focus was on making the attendees comfortable and providing them with a number of resources and anxiety grounding kits.
The event marked the importance of consent education and how it must be taught from an early age. Rape culture is reinforced through popular culture and social media in the form of sexual narratives and misogynistic comments. These narratives try to minimize the magnitude of the harm done and dismiss the responsibility of those who misuse their power.
The attendees were warned about trigger warnings beforehand and were provided with calming teas, chocolates and other comfort food. The Black Out Poetry was one of the highlights and the ice breaker activity. The event encouraged the students to blackout a few words from a whole given dialogue to make poetry of their own.
Black Out Poetry reuses books, newspaper articles or recipes to rewrite and recreate narratives. Through the erasing and highlighting of powerful or provocative words, participants were able to create new stories from the remnants torn from old books.
Consent Tea at TRU has been a very dignified approach to having conversations about consent for the last few years and continues to take care of its students. The event was followed by a Trauma-Informed Yoga class with Tania McCartney. The stigma around sexualization, sexualized violence and its other forms has always prevented the survivors from speaking out and seeking help. This needs to change and the time is now. Each year with events like Consent Tea, the TRU Wellness Centre gets a little closer to educating the students and making the TRU campus a safe space for its inhabitants.