Public university uses musical to combat sexual assault

One public university has a musical approach to combating sexual assault on campus.

Indiana University at Bloomington is now using a musical during freshmen orientation to teach incoming students about consent and act out how to not rape fellow students.

Prior to coming to campus, all new students are required to complete an online module about sexual assault; then, they are required to attend a musical written by an alum exploring campus misconduct and rape. The musical ends with a tune about needing consent before engaging in sexual activities.

The lyrics read, “Consent is unmistakable . . . it’s often verbal . . . it’s uncoerced . . . it’s freely given . . . and if you’ve got those things together, that’s consent! Consent . . . whoa consent!”

“It sounds cheesy, but let me tell you that many students will tell us that they remember the definition of consent from that song and sing it to us later,” Carol McCord, the associate dean of students, told Inside Higher Ed.

The orientation costs students $149. IU’s Director of New Student Orientation, Melanie Payne, told Campus Reform that the orientation fee covers all activities for the school’s Freshman Year Experience, which includes orientation, welcome week, testing, transportation, student IDs, and more.

“I am a little offended,” she said about the National Review article which she believes implied IU’s musical was only teaching their boys not to rape.

The programming, which has been used for a number of years according to Payne, was developed in conjunction with the campus commission on personal safety. IU held focus groups with students and faculty and staff who work in safety and sexual assault awareness efforts, Payne said. “It was a study that kind of guided the messaging.”

Payne said the consent song was written by Michael Reunick, an alum who graduated “about four or five years ago.”

The musical is performed by upperclassmen students who are paid for their work in the production.

“It’s not a skit, it’s an actual production,” Payne said in an interview. “We hire actors, singers...they are paid for their time.”

Performers are paid an hourly rate which Payne said is similar to other on-campus jobs.

National Review reported that the orientation is mandatory for all new students. In addition to attending the musical, students are also required to meet with an advisor and take placement exams among other things before they can register for classes.

Other universities are following IU’s lead in sexual assault prevention. According to Inside Higher Ed, New York University held a similar consent-based theatrical performance during their orientation programs as well.

Carol McCord, Associate Dean of Students at IU, did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time for publication.

See the full song lyrics below:

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