A new Title IX video aims to help students become aware of the importance of consent in a relationship and how Title IX can protect an individual from feeling threatened or intimidated, according to Deputy Title IX Coordinator Becky Strain.
Titled “BYU-Hawaii Consent and the Beach (Title IX training),” the video focuses on how consent is given by comparing it to inviting a friend to go to the beach.
Students Alejandra Mena and Jacob Titus act out various situations in which Titus asks Mena if she’d like to go to the beach. The different situations range from Mena saying she doesn’t want to because she has other things she wants to do or isn’t interested.
In one depicted situation, Mena says yes to the invite but then decides she doesn’t want to anymore, which the video highlights as an example of how consent can be withdrawn at any moment.
The video focuses on some of the legal definitions with consent, including that it must be enthusiastic and mutual. It also says making someone feel guilty so they’ll consent is punishable by Title IX.
Mena, a senior elementary education major from Mexico City, said, “Making the video took a lot of work. And at some point, it made me realize, ‘What if this was me?’ There are some people who do not know who to trust or what to do because they are in a foreign country. And they are thinking, ‘This is okay here but for me it’s not okay, and I don’t know how to say it.’”
When asked why the video’s emphasis was on consent, Strain said, “Consent is the heart of Title IX. It is not just a yes or no issue, but if someone is feeling pressured, coerced or uncomfortable, it becomes a Title IX issue.” She said the video can help students understand how consent should be given before any sexual contact.
Sister Jane Beuhring, Title IX project supervisor, added, “We want kids to understand ‘no means no.’ It does not need to be verbalized. There are actions like looking away, looking down, and shrinking back is a way of saying no. And it goes both ways. We have instances where guys are being harassed, and girls need to know no means no.”
Strain added, “Consent is a contract. It’s a two-way agreement, and it can’t be dominated by one party. Just because he or she is okay with kissing doesn’t mean he or she is okay with full-blown making out. We want students to feel safe and comfortable. There shouldn’t be any pressure to do things they are not comfortable doing.”
Steve Revillo, an accounting sophomore from the Philippines, said he thought the emphasis on consent in the video was portrayed well. “It was a good emphasis on how consent is about communication, both verbal and nonverbal.
“Short informative videos like these are a great way to inform about Title IX or more specifically about consent.”
Revillo said she using the two words “mutual” and “enthusiastic” was something she appreciated. It should “never [be] forced and never have a misunderstanding between the parties.
The multicultural environment at BYUH is something students should be aware of, said Beuhring. “What is offensive in one culture might not be in another culture. That is why such videos can educate the campus at large and help students see that they might be doing a behavior innocently and not realize it could be a problem.”
She added how Title IX is set to protect both the females and males. “I have five sons. I don’t want them doing something that is misconstrued to be something different than it is. Young men need to understand what their boundaries are so they can protect themselves and protect the relationship.”
Deedra Rama, a sophomore from Malaysia studying international cultural studies, said “I’m sure many of the students have experienced what was shown in the video, so to be able to understand how to react in such situations as the video explains is rather helpful.”
Rama said she was aware some students would find the video silly in terms of how it was shot or the use of fonts. However, she said, “BYUH has always emphasized the importance of Title IX. I always wondered why when I first started school here. Now that I’ve been in school for a year, I understand its importance and I hope others will find the video helpful.
“The video delivers its message. It helps students be aware to create a safe and respected campus community, but more explanation of concerns or sexual misconduct at the end of the video would be helpful. I feel it would encourage people to be more aware and know how to report such problems as well.”
The new video is the beginning part of a broader movement to spread more awareness of Title IX, said Strain. According to Beuhring, new training videos regarding sexual misconduct, bystander behavior, and steps to take for those sexually abused and harassed will be published.
“I thought the Title IX videos [we have] could do some updating. We are currently working on videos regarding dating, domestic violence and perhaps prevention,” said Beuhring.
Sexual misconduct or harassment is a problem in every college, said Strain, and BYUH is not exempted. “Yes, full blown rapes do happen here but we have a lot of sexual harassments and stalking. Or when relationships don’t go well, one of the parties feels intimidated, threatened, and endangered.”
She said she could not provide the numbers and figures of Title IX cases in BYUH because she knows there are a lot of cases that are not being reported to the Title IX office. “We would love to change that because first off, we can’t help students and get them the counseling and assistance they need. We also don’t know how broad the problem is on our campus.”
Students should not be afraid to report a Title IX issue because of fear of honor code violations against them, Strain added. She said there is a new policy that when cases come to their office, they do not inform the Office of Honor or the student’s bishop. “We are very separate from the [Office of Honor] or the church headquarters. We are here to deal with sexual misconduct.”
She said that students can report a Title IX concern by either going to titleix.byuh.edu or report directly to campus security or the Title IX office at the Lorenzo Snow Building. The consent video can be viewed on YouTube by searching “consent BYU-Hawaii” or at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm2z4Dv1phI.