As a member of Greek life on the University of Nevada, Reno’s campus, it doesn’t come as a shock to people that I’ve indulged in the spring break phenomena. My freshman and sophomore year, nothing could stand in my way from journeying down to Lake Havasu or spending a week on Mission beach with my closest sorority sisters.
For my third Spring Break at UNR I made the executive decision to save my money and energy for more important things, like Coachella, and kick back at home during my week off. It was peachy. However, now that I have embraced the YES! Always consent campaign into my life and gained a clear understanding of the topics surrounding sexual assault, I have begun to see this party-filled week a bit differently.
The YES! Always spring break campaign was the team’s way of keeping the spirit of consent alive when students were letting loose at the beach. The event was splendid – the team and I felt accomplished in keeping the conversation about sexual assault and consent going with our trivia questions and raffle prizes. And of course, the free burritos from Laughing Planet didn’t hurt.
Our initial reasoning behind our spring break campaign was the recognition that the spring break atmosphere has a tendency to disregard all serious matters, and most common sense. On one level, this sounds delightfully relaxing. On another, things can go south very quickly. The attitude surrounding spring break is one that often invalidates any form of sexual harassment or assault, and this is the attitude that the team is eager to change.
When we take a small step back and look at all of the excitement that alcohol manages to bring to the table, it can easily make the most intelligent person a blazing idiot. The team decided that it would be beneficial to remind students of these points before they took off for the week.
The YES! Always event hosted a trivia game that carried out the conversation of consent with a focus on the spring break experience. When students approached the table, they were offered a chance to enter our raffle by answering a minimum of one trivia question. We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of correct answers.
We asked students true or false questions on subjects like alcohol consumption during the spring break season, and some of the guidelines surrounding consent. With a topic like ours, it can be easy to stray toward the wrong answer. For example, we asked a few students whether or not consent is necessary before each sexual encounter if two people have previously engaged in sexual activity.
For many, this may seem silly – it would seem that if an individual agrees once, then consent would be accounted for each additional time. The team and I felt a tinge of success when we noticed that the majority of these trickier questions were answered correctly.
Our trivia accomplishment tied together the loose ends of our spring break campaign. This party-filled season will always be the time of year to disregard all responsibilities, but there should never be a time to disregard our basic human rights.
It was refreshing to know that there happens to be a chunk of UNR students who have their logic on track when it comes to sexual assault and the importance of consent. Seeing students write on our whiteboard “what consent means to them” and participate in our trivia gave the me an extra bit of faith on the topic. Though, I have also begun to accept that the phenomena surrounding spring break will always have a way of making these sensitive topics seem temporarily irrelevant, or even invisible. While this a fairly depressing thought, it has been rewarding to participate in an organization that has provided me a front-row seat to tackling these issues.
For this reason, the YES! Always team has an urgency to continue the conversation of consent throughout the remainder of the semester. Our hope is that through tabling sessions, promotions and our event to kick off summer vacation will keep the importance of YES! Alive on the UNR campus and in the minds of students when they take the party elsewhere.
Maddison Cervantes studies journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.