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“Sex Signals” combines comedy and consent education

| Wednesday, September 20, 2017

One in four.

This statistic is often rattled off by concerned parents, cautioning administrators and freshman girls about the reality of sexual assault on college campuses.

A 2007 study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice found one in four women and one in sixteen men are sexually assaulted during their college years. If this statistic holds true for the undergraduate Notre Dame community, about 1,007 women and 282 men will have to deal with assault during their four years in South Bend. “Sex Signals” wants to change that, John Johnstin, assistant director for outreach services at the Gender Relations Center (GRC), said.

On Wednesday, the GRC will be hosting the annual “Sex Signals” performance at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Geddes Hall. “Sex Signals,” created by Christian Murphy, a 1992 graduate of Notre Dame, seeks to educate students on the importance of consent. The performance serves the purpose of teaching students about healthy relationships on a different platform than they might usually see, Johnstin said.

“‘Sex Signals’ allows students to engage in the conversation of consent and bystander intervention in an interactive, fun and creative way,” Johnstin said. “This program allows students to interact with the performers during the skits and to learn the different ways that someone could intervene on behalf of someone else.”

While Notre Dame provides education on consent through Building Community at Notre Dame, a module that all incoming freshmen are required to complete, the GRC hopes that “Sex Signals” will be able to speak directly to students who might be unsure of what to do in uncomfortable situations, Johnstin said.

“We hope ‘Sex Signals’ will show that there is no ‘one way’ but a variety of ways that one can ask and receive consent as well as what someone can do if they see a situation where consent is not being sought or can’t be given,” he said. “We are always looking at the topic of positive, respectful and healthy relationships.”

While consent education is usually focused on the two participating parties, Johnstin said, “Sex Signals” makes a point to instruct students on how to intervene as a third party when they witness a situation in which consent is not given as well.

“The program … promotes bystander intervention,” he said. “It also gives students a voice to recognize issues and change them on stage and hopefully this will encourage folks to do so when they see situations at parties, bars and other places where students can be harmed.”


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