Consent Week April 8-12
By Mark Matson, Iowa BIG teacher
Sexual assault is a growing problem in America, and Iowa BIG is working to address this issue by promoting Consent Week at Linn-Mar High School April 8-12. As a nod to April being recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness month, Iowa BIG will be sponsoring different activities emphasizing the importance of gaining consent prior to sexual activity.
Consent week will culminate with a presentation by guest speaker Officer Anthony Greiter, a 10-year veteran of the Iowa State University police force and the point of contact for the Story County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). Greiter, an alumni of Linn-Mar High School, has educated more than 35,000 community members on the topics of sexual assault, bystander intervention and best practices for sexual assault response. Due to his ability to blend humor, information and community input into his presentations, Greiter has been recognized as a dynamic speaker by the International Association of Chiefs of Police Center for Social Media. He will conduct two presentations at Linn-Mar on Friday, April 12 from 8:30-10 a.m. and from 2-3:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium.
The idea of Consent Week started when students at the BIG on Boyson location were approached by Tom Hicks, Dean of Students at Coe College, who expressed that sexual assault on campus was a growing problem that needed to be addressed before students arrived on campus. Hicks hoped that Iowa BIG could introduce this topic to a younger audience. BIG students created a Consent team that has worked to spread awareness of sexual assault and the importance of gaining consent before engaging in sexual activity. The team spoke to the Linn-Mar School Board and addressed topics they would like to see changed within the Board policy regarding sexual assault and harassment. Next year, the Consent team hopes to incorporate sexual assault awareness in all area high schools.
Consent Week will provide students an opportunity to sign a pledge and receive a teal ribbon which indicates that they will respect boundaries, ask for consent and believe survivors. Awareness stickers, posters, and T-shirts will also be available. Donations will be collected all week and will be directed to Riverview Center, a non-profit organization which is committed to providing compassionate, client-centered care for individuals affected by sexual assault.
“Sexual assault can happen to anybody. It’s important to know what consent really means in all kinds of situations and how to prevent sexual assault before it happens,” says Cody Watts, a student at both Iowa BIG and Linn-Mar High School.
Iowa BIG is a project-based learning community with two locations in Cedar Rapids. BIG partners with Linn-Mar, College Community and the Cedar Rapids Community School districts and gives students an opportunity to explore their passions while earning high school credit.