BTS, GVES encourage consent awareness at annual event


Students learned chair dancing techniques to build their confidence with sex communication at ”The 5 Senses of Consent” event in Lamberton Hall on Feb. 15.

For the past four years, Gender Violence Education and Support (GVES) and Break the Silence (BTS) have hosted “The 5 Senses of Consent” events with the aim of helping students find comfort in their sexuality.

Dr. Brooke DeSipio, the director of GVES, said sex has always been a topic that people are not comfortable addressing.

Gender Violence Education and Support (GVES) and Break the Silence (BTS) have hosted “The 5 Senses of Consent” events for the past four years. The goal is to help students find comfort in their sexuality. (Viannis Almonte/B&W Staff)

“There really aren’t spaces in society for this, and we have a terrible sex eductation in this country,” DeSipio said. “It’s not something typically talked about in homes or families.”

She said because people don’t talk about sex often, it leads to a lack of knowledge about sex, consent and their meanings.

“The most powerful sex organ is the brain,” DeSipio said. 

This year was focused on the theme of moving beyond consent, where consent is more than the typical “yes” or “no.”

DeSipio said consent is constant communication during sex through the use of the five senses, whether that be indicated by a sound or non-verbal cue.

The event featured a performance by Leela, the Indian fusion dance team, and a lesson by chair dancing instructors. There were items such as bandanas and water bottles for students to take.

The chair dancing was meant for students to self-reflect and be confident when engaging in communication during sex, DeSipio said.

Alexandra Gainey, ’22, said it was her first time attending the event, and said she enjoyed the opportunity to have a space where she was able to express her sexuality without being judged.

“Women are constantly shamed for expressing themselves and having pride in their bodies,” Gainey said. “Lehigh taking initiative to create this space for everyone is very important.” 

DeSipio said there is a double-standard in society where young women are expected not to be sexual, and even if they do want to express themselves, they do not feel empowered to do so.

Caralyn Roeper, ‘21, a peer educator for BTS, said knowing about consent is important because many people experience sexual assault before attending college.

“A healthy sex education reduces the chances of being a perpretrator or victim of sexual assault, by providing students with the education and resources to enable themselves…or help their peers,” Roeper said. 

Roeper said even with a healthy sex education, sexual assault or gender violence is never the victim’s or survivor’s fault. She said she is glad that students are able to be educated in a clean and healthy way.

DeSipio said she wishes the whole campus would attend such events, because these conversations are very important, especially in a society where women face trauma. 

Events like these, she said, allow for trauma victims to reclaim their sexuality because flashbacks can stimulate one of the five senses, such as a specific scent.

DeSipio encourages students to talk to her or attend events to learn more about sex, consent and self reflection.

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1 Comment

  1. Robert F Davenport Jr on

    I get the impression that when a sexual encounter occurs and a woman is not happy with the outcome, sexual assault or gender violence has occured. Of course this can be the result of real assault, miscommunication or reflection. I see no mention of the perpetrators of violence and also get the impression that they are thought of as perpetrators not as human beings.

    I see this as a power grab where the past seemingly absolute power of men in a sexual encounter will be replaced by the absolute power of women to control it. In addition is the power and right to express sexuality in any way a woman desires to do so.

    I see here a picture of many women who are overjoyed at the prospect of having this power. Sexuality has a power of it’s own that demands that it be used with respect if it is to be used well. May you use it well.

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