Building a Culture of Consent and Community Care: Orientation Programs and First Year Learning Scaffold

Program Overview

According to the American College Health Association, sexual violence prevention programs on college campuses should take a holistic approach incorporating all levels of the socioecological system. BWell uses a public health framework to provide orientation programming on both the individual and community levels.

BWell’s Orientation programs, Culture of Consent and Community Care,  takes a holistic approach with multiple opportunities for students to engage in content, with each component building upon the previous interventions and interactions.  This scaffolding approach allows students to interact with the material as they are ready and develop knowledge and skills over time. 

All BWell Orientation components are designed with the following core principles:

  • Research based and evidence informed with utilization of best practices in the field of Health Promotion that maximize the potential for knowledge gain, attitude shift and behavior change.
  • Recognizes social justice and the social determinants of health as foundational to individual and community wellbeing.
  • Honors students' lived experiences, making space for incorporating these into Orientation programming and empowering them to change Brown for the better.

Online Courses: Alcohol Edu

Students complete two online courses before they arrive at Brown. The courses introduce students to the global concepts of consent, sexual violence prevention, and health and safety and substance use. About 30 days after students arrive on campus, they are invited to complete Part 2 of each course. 

Alcohol Edu Course Objectives. First year students will be able to:

  • Define standard drink measurements for beer, wine, and liquor
  • Describe the negative physical, mental, and social consequences associated with high-risk drinking
  • List the negative effects that drinking can have on a college community
  • Agree: Most college students abstain or avoid drinking heavily 
  • Demonstrate non-confrontational responses to turn down a drink or invitation to attend an alcohol-focused event
  • Understand how AOD use can affect relationships and impact other students’ college experience
  • Respect and support non-drinkers
  • List strategies for managing stress
  • Explain the factors that affect BAC
  • Explain the implications of alcohol’s biphasic properties
  • List the strategies that drinkers can use to keep BAC in a safer range
  • Understand the risks posed by polysubstance use
  • Explain how heavy drinking impacts information processing and memory 
  • Understand the risks of vaping
  • Understand incapacitation, impairment, and consent 
  • Cite the laws and campus policies relevant to underage AOD use
  • Understand that almost all institutions of higher education must follow federal law regarding cannabis use, regardless of state legalization status
  • Itemize the legal, financial, academic, and social consequences that can result from a DUI
  • Describe a range of active bystander strategies to prevent incapacitation, impaired driving, and overdose
  • Describe the symptoms and health and safety risks of AOD overdose
  • Demonstrate how to reach out to a friend who may have a problem with alcohol or other drugs
  • Agree: My decision not to drink heavily will help me accomplish my personal goals and be more successful
  • Describe a system for setting personal goals, monitoring progress, and tracking their completion
  • Outline a personal plan for keeping BAC at a safer level (drinkers)
  • Outline a personal plan for continuing to not drink (abstainers)

Online Courses: Sexual Violence Prevention

Students complete two online courses before they arrive at Brown. The courses introduce students to the global concepts of consent, sexual violence prevention, and health and safety and substance use.  About 30 days after students arrive on campus, they are invited to complete Part 2 of each course. 

Sexual Assault Prevention Course Objectives. First year students will be able to:

  • Understand that sexual violence/assault is everyone’s responsibility; everyone on campus can do something to intervene and stop it
  • Understand how learning about sexual assault, healthy relationships, and consent contributes to a safe/supportive campus community 
  • Identify key elements of their personal identities, including their core values 
  • Describe how their identities and values influence how they view relationships and sexual violence
  • Recognize that crimes related to sexual violence (sexual assault, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, stalking) all point to abuse of power and control
  • Describe the key elements of healthy and unhealthy relationships
  • Explain ways to be supportive to someone who is in an abusive relationship
  • How to seek assistance if you are questioning if your relationship is abusive
  • Explain the concept of gender stereotyping and how it relates to the issue of sexual violence
  • Describe the impact of gender stereotypes on both male victims and non-binary individuals
  • Illustrate the impact of sexist language
  • Describe ways to intervene to stop others from using sexist language; awareness of the negative impacts of this kind of language
  • Describe how laws, such as Title IX are meant to protect individuals from sex- or gender-based harassment 
  • Recognize different forms of sexual harassment in campus environment 
  • Understand the emotional impacts of these kinds of behaviors
  • Recognize examples of stalking behavior common in a campus environment
  • Know how to intervene in a situation where someone may be engaging in sexual harassment/stalking-types of behaviors
  • Define consent and its importance in relationships
  • Indicate when an individual is incapable of giving consent
  • Describe ways to ask for consent and to get clarification if the presence of consent is unclear
  • Define and give examples of coercion
  • Describe the role than alcohol plays in consent and coercion
  • Evaluate different ways to intervene and/or get help if you witness a situation where consent is not present
  • Describe when to call on others, including emergency professionals to a situation
  • Identify ways to respond when a friend discloses a sexual assault
  • Help a survivor identify counseling and reporting services, if he or she chooses to use them
  • Describe the options for reporting a sexual assault to campus or police officials
  • Describe what typically happens during the reporting process  

Class Meeting

The Culture of Consent and Community Care Class Meeting is held a day or two after students arrive on campus. Through personal narratives and a series of videos, returning students orient the incoming class to Brown's commitments and values and the expectations of them as the newest members of Brown's community.

Objectives. First year students will be able to:

  1. Describe 2 ways that consent and bodily autonomy are cultural norms for the Brown community in everyday interactions.
  2. Describe 2 ways to articulate, recognize, and respect boundaries within sexual interactions. 
  3. Identify 2 resources for interpersonal violence response on campus.
  4. Describe 2 ways that help-seeking behaviors are valued within the Brown community.
  5. Identify 2 resources for seeking help with substance abuse.
  6. Articulate 2 ways to make informed decisions around Alcohol and Other Drug use.  
  7. Describe 2 ways that alcohol and other drug use may positively and/or negatively contribute to social wellbeing (sense of belonging and making connections).
  8. Identify 2 ways to support and demonstrate respect for students who choose to be substance free.

Structure + Methodology

The class meeting is presented as a live webinar which includes content delivered through student testimonials and videos of consent scenarios and campus resources. A cast of 5-7 returning students write and deliver testimonials about personal experiences that illustrate the class meeting’s objectives, discuss and frame the videos, and welcome the new class.  

It is structured as follows:

  • Opening 
  • Sophomore - Importance of Meeting Testimonial (Objectives 1, 4)
  • Consent Videos and Debrief (Objectives 1, 2) 
  • Culture of Consent Testimonial (Objectives 1, 2, 4)
  • Resources Video (Objectives 3 + 5)
  • Alcohol and Being True to Self Testimonial (Objectives 6, 7)
  • Sub Free at Brown Testimonial (Objectives 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
  • Alcohol and Community Care Testimonial (Objectives 6, 7)
  • Closing

Neighborhood Meeting: Consent, Bystander Intervention, Supporting Survivors

Neighborhood meetings are held a day or two after the Class Meeting in small groups within students' residential communities. The neighborhood meetings build students' skills - around consent, bystander intervention and support for survivors - for application in their residential communities, friend groups, and in their intimate relationships. 

Objectives. First year students will be able to:

  1. Identify the following five elements of consent: that consent is: 1)freely given, 2) reversible, 3) informed, 4) engaged, and 5) specific.
  2. Identify language for clear communication about consent during a sexual interaction.
  3. Discuss indicators of harmful situations that require intervention and brainstorm safe and effective methods to intervene.
  4. Name four best practices for supporting a survivor of sexual violence.

Structure + Methodology

During Orientation, and following the Class Meeting, residential communities gather and are led in activities and discussion by a facilitation team of one Bruno Leader (student orientation leader) and one BWell student leader. The facilitation teams are trained by BWell professional staff to deliver the 1 hour curriculum.

The neighborhood meetings are structured as follows, with interactive learning activities and guided discussion for each section:

  • Communication and Consent (Objectives 1, 2)
  • Bystander Intervention (Objective 3)
  • Supporting Survivors (Objective 4)

Neighborhood Meeting: Substance Use and Community Care

A second set of neighborhood meetings are held in October, once again in small groups within students' residential communities. These neighborhood meetings build students' skills and knowledge around safer substance use, being substance free, and related campus support resources, as well as offering some reminders of the consent and sexual violence prevention messaging from the Class Meeting and earlier Neighborhood Meeting. 

Objectives. First year students will be able to:

  1. Learn strategies for reducing risk.
  2. Learn the signs and symptoms of severe intoxication and how to respond.
  3. Identify 2 resources for seeking help with substance abuse.
  4. Recall information from the Culture of Consent neighborhood and class meetings: resources, consent FRIES and bystander intervention

Structure + Methodology

During October, residential communities gather and are led in activities and discussion by their Community Coordinator. The Community Coordinators are each provided with a meeting script and all program materials. The program has been designed so that the Community Coordinators do not need specialized training in order to facilitate the workshop.