‘Why don’t we have consent classes for men?’

By Doug Babcock 

Recently, St. Michael’s College Public Safety organized a Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) class that was free and open to all women on campus, students and employees. This national program has been taught in schools, towns and businesses across the country for many years, empowering women with tools and training to protect themselves. St. Michael’s has five certified instructors and works with area police departments to bring this training to campus and others in the area. We offer this class every semester.

Recently we found a picture of one of our flyers with a note on the back, which said, “Why don’t we have consent classes for men??” This is an important question, and I’d like to address this question and the mindset around it directly.

The college conducts a number of trainings, outreach and engagement activities around consent, healthy relationships, respect, positive decision making and more. The class we were offering is just one of many opportunities to learn about various aspects of the issues of sexual assault, as well as other misconduct and negative social attitudes and norms.

Moreover, Public Safety supports the college mission of educating students not for life at Saint Mike’s, but for life. The skills we teach, like the R.A.D. program and the Active Threat Response, are not about what happens here. While these and other bad things are possible here, there is a greater likelihood that somewhere in students’ lives after St. Michael’s that they may encounter a dangerous situation. We want to give you tools for life. 

To be frank, the sexual assault reports we receive on-campus rarely involve the type of attack and violence that the R.A.D. class is designed to teach about. However, the more tools, the more mindset training, and the more confidence a person has in their life, the greater the chance they have to reduce or prevent harm in a variety of circumstances. 

Unfortunately, we had to cancel this semester’s R.A.D. class due to a lack of interest. Additionally, we heard that the comment on the flyer was also posted online. My hope is that the comments and conversation did not deter people who may have otherwise been interested in taking the class and missing out on a skill that may have helped them later in life.

If you have any questions about this training program, other efforts around sexual assault awareness, prevention or response, or other safety programs on campus, I ask and encourage people to ask us directly. The Student Life Office, the Title IX office and Public Safety all exist to help our students learn and navigate both life here at St. Michael’s and to grow and succeed safely in the world now and after you graduate.

-Your Partners in Public Safety. 

Doug Babcock is the Director of Public Safety at Saint Michael’s College.