Consent: Is It as Simple as Tea?

Rowan Center Facilitators Come to St. Luke’s

Laura Haley '23, Staff Writer

In large bubble letters, followed by scribbled writing, the introduction screen reads: Consent, it’s as simple as tea. Garnering over 10 million views, the “Tea Consent” video appeared in health classes across the nation. Within its almost three-minute running time, this video provides students with an accessible definition of consent and how to practice it. Though a helpful introduction, the video hardly scratches the surface of consent. As it turns out, consent is most definitely not as simple as tea. 

Sofia Shklovsky ‘23, Macy Millones ‘23, and I are a part of the Rowan Center student advisory board. With the hopes of creating a better understanding of consent, as well as providing a safe space to talk about issues involving sexual violence, we worked with the Mind Matters Club and Feminism Club to bring facilitators from the Rowan Center to the St. Luke’s community. 

Serving a number of towns in the Fairfield Country Area, the Rowan Center operates a 24-hour hotline service, providing emotional support for victims while offering additional services that assist victims if they choose to file a police report or attend court sessions. While they are committed to serving victims, they are also eager to educate and raise awareness in the community. The Round Table discussions are specifically meant for middle and high school students and offer a variety of topics to choose from, the most popular being consent. 

In this year’s Rowan Center Round Table, the group of twenty participants dug deeper into the meaning of the often misconstrued word Consent and opened the floor for discussion surrounding sexual assault. The group grappled with tricky questions like the implications of intoxication on consent, and Rowan Center Educators Emma and Sarah helped navigate how to approach someone who you think might be at risk of sexual assault. 

As we moved through various thought-provoking activities, one notable conclusion stood out: consent is confidence. Dodging the need to engage in “people pleasing,” saying no, or turning down an advance from someone you might not be interested in, takes a commendable amount of confidence.

Confidence can be difficult to source. Learning to love yourself, understand your wants and needs, and more importantly – respect them – takes time. However, once confidence is achieved, consent isn’t so daunting. Although consent can sometimes seem like a foreign entity, in reality, you know more about it than anybody else because it comes from within. Framed this way, the topic of consent becomes less daunting and more agreeable. 

If you were unable to attend the Round Table, we plan to invite Rowan Center Educators back later this spring to facilitate a “Know Before you Go” conversation for Seniors as a way to ensure Seniors are well-educated about consent and sexual assault prevention methods before they leave for college. For underclassmen, the next Rowan Center Roundtable will likely be held next year. Keep your eye out for it; it is something you do not want to miss. 

Sexual violence is something the vast majority of people stay silent about, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The Rowan Center’s mission is to not only encourage survivors to speak out by offering a safe support network but also to educate others about an often stigmatized topic of conversation. The partnership between the Rowan Center and St. Luke’s will encourage these conversations, ensuring students are educated and enter the world with the skills they need to navigate difficult situations. It is high time we use our voices to help untangle the uncertainty around consent and sexual violence so that perhaps one day, consent might finally be as simple as tea.