Sexual consent classes at UCD cancelled due to lack of interest

Just 20 students attended well-publicised classes run by UCD Students’ Union

The UCD Students’ Union has cancelled classes on sexual consent because of a lack of interest.

Approximately 20 students out of a student population of 30,000 have participated in the classes which were first announced in February last year as part of the university’s #NotAskingForIt campaign.

Classes were run in the second semester of last year and in the autumn term, but have now been cancelled at a cost of €1,800 to the students’ union. They would have cost €4,000 had they run to term.

Union welfare officer Róisín O’Mara said many students did not feel the need for consent classes.


Those who did think there was a need for the classes, generally didn’t feel they needed to go.

“It’s a hot topic at the moment,” she said, “perhaps that is why people don’t want to be seen as needing to be told what consent is. The people who needed to go to classes wouldn’t have gone.

“The people who were already engaging were the people who had a fair idea what consent was.”

The consent classes were introduced after allegations swept the university in February of last year of a group of 200 male students sharing nude photographs of female students without their permission.

The rumours proved not to be true.

UCDSU called on university management to fund mandatory workshops on sexual consent for all students.

Ms O’Mara said the classes were run on a trial period. She said the students’ union is instead joining with the National Women’s Council of Ireland on their EU-funded programme to tackle sexual harassment and violence on college campuses.

“We are one of the only Irish universities working with them on this,” she said. “We’re not dropping the issue of consent. We are just looking at it differently in a more effective way.”

UCDSU president Conor Viscardi said the course is based on the smart consent workshops developed at the School of Psychology, NUI Galway. It is based on a two hour workshop in which students are challenged as to what they mean by consent and various ambiguous scenarios are presented to the group. The issues of consent when drink or drugs is taken is one of the scenarios explored.

A UCD spokesman said the issue of the consent classes were a matter for the students’ union.

Trinity College Dublin students' union president Kieran McNulty said it had run a series of consent workshops during fresher's week which had been a success.

Some 400 students had attended. He said it was the intention of the union to run similar workshops next September.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times