Penn Violence Prevention hosts consent workshop, continuing efforts from NSO

Penn Violence Prevention hosted a consent workshop on Feb. 22, inviting members of the Penn community to strengthen their communication skills around navigating consent. 

The “Pizza & Fries: Conversations About Consent” workshop was held at Hill College House and facilitated by Julie Millisky, associate director at PVP. 

Participants worked in small groups to build a pizza with ingredients that everyone agreed on before moving on to topics like developing boundaries and navigating consent when substances are present.

“Initially, I was expecting a seminar with many people attending, but it was a more intimate space for sharing, and I think that worked out for the better,” Sparsh Maheshwari, a graduate student at the School of Social Policy & Practice, said after attending the event. “My biggest takeaway was that if it’s not a confident and enthusiastic yes, it’s a no.”

Talia Fiester, College senior and student worker at PVP who also facilitated Wednesday’s workshop, said that the highlight of the night was seeing that students think about consent beyond just the activities that PVP facilitates. 

“We had a really good conversation on the way that all of the students practiced community care amongst their friend groups,” Fiester said. 

Wednesday’s workshop was a continuation of consent circles that were conducted during Penn’s New Student Orientation in August.

According to Fiester, consent circles work towards making consent a more accessible and approachable topic for first years while also building a culture of consent on campus. 

PVP created the “Conversations About Consent” workshop in the spring of 2022, according to Millisky. PVP offers the option for the workshop to be requested by Penn student groups, organizations, or departments with two weeks’ notice. They also offer another workshop, “Supporting Survivors,” which focuses on how to best support a friend if they experience interpersonal violence. 

Millisky estimates that PVP will give around 10 to 15 “Conversations About Consent” workshops  throughout the academic year. She added that these workshops have proven to be popular and offer a nonjudgmental space where students can ask questions. 

“At the end of the workshop, hopefully, students feel empowered to navigate consent in their own lives,” Millisky said.

During April, PVP is organizing the clothesline project for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which will give survivors a chance to share their stories anonymously by writing on T-shirts that will be displayed on College Green, Millisky told The Daily Pennsylvanian.