Each year the Cambridge SU Women’s Campaign, which aims to tackle the myths, misunderstandings and problematic perspectives about rape, sexual consent and sexual harassment and to create a healthy and positive understanding of consent, provides training and resources to support JCR and MCR reps in delivering consent talks to all incoming first-year students in their college. These workshops provide a vital introduction for many students into issues of consent and sexual violence and these relate to the University environment. The aim of these workshops is to provide a foundation for challenging the views and assumptions associated with a culture of sexual violence. While these workshops are not able to cover this complex issue fully, they can assist students in identifying when their boundaries have been violated and how to challenge problematic behaviours and assumptions that undermine consent. They should not be seen as an opportunity to “scare” incoming students but to raise awareness of the ways consent impacts different communities and can play a role in building healthy sexual relationships.
This year, we are teaming up with Sexplain to deliver the consent workshops and a range of other workshops for which you can find sign-up information here and in the individual events on the Google Calendar. While the consent workshops are primarily for the incoming Freshers, returning Sidney grads are welcome to sign up for the other workshops. In addition, several of our officers have undergone Consent Training by the SU and especially our welfare officers and our women’s officer would be appy to answer any further questions you might have or guide you towards additional resources.
You can also sign-up to an online self-learn workshop called “Consent Matters” through Moodle which takes ~45min to complete.
Consent and Sexual Assault
The CUSU Women’s Campaign defines consent as “active and willing participation in sexual activity. It means that all parties had the freedom and capacity to make the choice.
Consent means enthusiastic participation in sexual activity. Consent cannot be assumed – whether you’re in a relationship, if you’ve been kissing, or no matter who has paid for the date. Checking for consent needs to be an ongoing process, and is the responsibility of all partners. An absence of a “no” doesn’t mean “yes”. If you’re not sure, it’s always best to ask. It is also important to remember that everyone has different boundaries around sexual consent: some people may not want to have penetrative sex, some people may be unable to move into different positions because of physical disabilities and some people’s culture or religion may make them unwilling or unable to engage in certain sexual encounters.”
We hope that no one will ever find themselves in a situation involving sexual harassment, assault or rape, and if they do, please know that you are not alone and it was not your fault. There are the options of reporting the incident(s) to College, the University, and/or the Police. There is a University Procedure on Student Harassment and Sexual Misconduct and a Code of Conduct for Students in Respect of Harassment and Sexual Misconduct, as part of the Breaking the Silence campaign. You can also speak to the University’s Sexual Assault & Harassment Advisor or get in touch with our welfare or women’s officers, the nurse, your counsellor or tutor, your GP, or the Students Advice Service.
Further support can be sought at:
Brook (guide on sexual health and wellbeing, incl. innovative clinical services, digital support, tailored counselling and sex education for young people)
If you want to find out more about the topic of consent and sexual health, have a look at
Enhance the UK (Sex & Disability)
Project Consent (a resource page for survivors of sexual assault and advocates who are fighting for a brighter future)
Have a look at the CUSU LGBT+ Campaign for a good and inclusive overview of sexual health, incl. different types of sexual activities, STIs, contraception, abortion, etc.
In the UK, your GP can prescribe you a contraceptive pill or make arrangements for other means of contraception such as Copper Coil, Hormonal Coil, Diaphram, etc.. You should call them in the first instance to make arrangements.
The MCR will provide condoms and pregnancy tests in a small basket placed in the mail room.
If you have had unprotected sex and want to use an emergency contraception such as the emergency contraceptive pill (morning after pill) or a coil, you should act as soon as possible. An emergency contraceptive can be prescribed free of charge by a GP or sexual health clinic and may be free at some pharmacies (e.g. Boots), too. If you cannot leave your house, e.g. because you are isolating, you should get in touch with your GP or a sexual health clinic via phone.
An STI is a sexually transmitted infection such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, and also HIV. If you believe you may have an STI, you should get tested at a local sexual health clinic. You should not engage in sexual activities, including oral sex, without a condom until you have been tested. You can have an STI without experiencing any symptoms and infect your partner unknowingly. Thus, it is advisable to use a condom even when using other forms of contraception. About visiting a sexual health clinic, the NHS writes, “You don’t need to give your real name or tell staff who your GP is if you don’t want to. No information about your visit to the clinic will be shared with your GP or anyone else outside the clinic unless you ask for it to be. You can ask to see a female or male doctor or nurse if you wish.”
You – both home and international students – can get tested for STIs locally and for free at Lime Tree Clinic or the THT Outreach in Cambridge. During the current pandemic, it is advisable to call iCaSH (+44 300 300 3030) in the first instance for further information as many sexual health clinics only provide essential services at the moment. Free testing kits can be ordered through iCaSH and other providers, too, and you may be able to get them at pharmacies (although you will need to pay for those).
Dhiverse is a local, inclusive organisation that provides high-quality sexual health and HIV support, education and information.
Sexual Health Products
We used to have a little basket with sexual health products (condoms, pregnancy tests, etc.) in the MCR bathrooms. As the MCR is closed until further notice, we have gotten permission from the Porter’s to move this basket to the mail room. We are still waiting on a reply from the SU who usually provide us with these products on whether we are able to collect them at the moment, but we will update this section as soon as we know more.