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    Talking consent and sexual violence

    Expert Farrah Khan speaks with first-year students as they join the Queen’s community.

    Expert Farrah Khan speaks with first-year students as they join the Queen’s community.
    Farrah Khan made a pair of presentations regarding consent and sexual violence to all first-year students shortly after they arrived at Queen’s University on Sunday, Sept. 2. (University Communiactions)

    At Queen's University the conversation regarding consent and sexual violence continues.

    On Sunday, Farrah Khan, one of Canada’s leading consent experts on the topics spoke to the 4,500 first-year students, a day after they arrived at the university.

    The presentations, held in the main gym of the Athletics and Recreation Centre, have become an integral part of Orientation Week and are aligned with the university’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response framework. In the talks, incoming students learn about healthy relationships, consent and sexual violence, both on campus and off, and participate in discussions about these issues, ways they can intervene in situations that could lead to sexual violence, and how they can support peers who disclose their experiences.

    With the students taking their first steps in a new stage in their lives, it’s a perfect opportunity to have these discussions, Khan points out.

    “I think for me it’s such a huge honour to be able to be part of this conversation and the fact that Queen’s puts so much emphasis on it and ensures that every student has to be here is a really good statement on Queen’s commitment to ending sexual violence,” she says. “(The presentation) sets the tone for how we treat each other as a community. This is a community that cares about each other. This is a community that will step in when you see something going down, and we will support each other when that happens. We will also call in our friends when something they’re doing is not okay, and not doing it could lead to more and more problems.”

    This was the second year that Khan has spoken during orientation at Queen’s and she learned a lot from her first experience at the university. She says that a number of students contacted her afterward to let her know that her presentation had an impact and that they appreciated the opportunity to speak openly with someone on what can be difficult topics.

    “I think there are opportunities for this (kind of talk). It opens up conversation, and that’s my hope,” she says. “I don’t think it’s about shame, blame, or fear. It’s about cultivating that hope.”

    It has been an exciting year for Khan as she was invited by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be a member of the Gender Equality Advisory Council for the G7 for the meetings hosted in Ottawa. The council includes a number of Nobel laureates such as Malala Yousafzai.

    Visit the university’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response website for more information. Learn more about the bystander intervention training that is available to all students throughout the year.

    More information about Farrah Khan is available on her website.