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Oct 05, 2016 02:45 AM EDT

Consent Classes Required By University Of Oxford For Incoming Freshmen

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The University of Oxford has made consent classes mandatory for incoming freshmen. This comes after reports of sexual harassment and assault in schools and universities have heightened concerns over campus safety.

BBC reported that the University of Oxford, which is the sixth best university in the world as per QS' rankings, has been offering workshops on these topics for about five years now. This is the first time, though, that the school made consent classes "compulsory" for its students. Freshmen this year are required to take the course.

Orla White, vice-president of the Oxford University Student Union for women, revealed that "each year, more and more colleges and common rooms run them as compulsory." She stressed that the course will not follow up on non-attendance and that participants can leave at any time.

The move has gained backlash since some see it as "patronizing." According to The Sun, there are some who believe that the course is important to promote discussions about consent.

The 90-minute class will teach Oxford students about rape and how no means no. Cambridge University students have the option not to attend the same workshops.

"The classes are really important to initiate conversations around consent," White added. "They break taboos and encourage discussions which didn't happen in sex education at school. The feedback we get is extremely positive because students can discuss the issues in a safe environment with people their own age."

Romper noted that American universities should follow the example of Oxford University in teaching consent to students. Colleges in the U.S. would do well to provide lessons in creating a safe sexual culture in its campuses.

American colleges such as Stanford University and the University of California - Berkeley were placed under the spotlight on how it handled the sexual assault cases of Brock Turner and professor Blake Wentworth, respectively. There were criticisms that the suspects were let off easy while the victims continued to live in shame and fear, perpetuating the culture of victim-blaming.

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