Penn’s newest anti-violence group, the Consent Collaborative, has established to unite all sexual violence awareness organizations on campus.
The goal of the student-led organization is to unite campus groups, such as Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention, the V-Day Campaign, Penn Anti-Violence Educators, and Men Against Rape, which combat sexual-violence. The Consent Collaborative aims to act as an umbrella group for the various organizations which have operated independently until now.
“What we really want to do is to create community among the members of those four groups, particularly because doing anti-sexual violence work is really challenging, a lot of emotional labor goes into it, and it’s work that is undervalued in a lot of ways and not recognized,” Caitlin Doolittle, co-founder of the group and College senior, said.
Doolittle added that she would ideally want the group to also function as a support system for students involved in member organizations.
Consent Collaborative was formed through a partnership between Doolittle and Director of Student Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Jessica Mertz. Mertz is the first person at Penn to hold this position since its creation in 2014.
Doolittle said she has been involved with anti-sexual violence groups on campus since her freshman year and holds a work-study position at the Penn Violence Prevention Office. She explained that the idea for the Consent Collaborative had been discussed for a few years. She noted that the new group will receive funding from the Vice Provost for University Life, adding that much of the money will be used to support the member groups.
In addition to this monetary support, members of the constituent groups said they are excited for the potential collaboration.
Sophia Griffith-Gorgati, director of The Vagina Monologues for V-day and College senior, explained that the group often needs assistance during production. The Vagina Monologues performance is V-day’s biggest fundraiser, and requires months of planning.
“We will have the opportunity to receive support from other groups,” Griffith-Gorgati said. “The night of the show, we often need volunteers to help people get to their seats, check people in, and make sure they have a ticket.”
College junior Salomon Villatoro, the recruitment chair of MARS, hopes to use the Consent Collaboration partnership to gain feedback to improve his group.
“The best way it will affect MARS is it opens up criticism of our group,” Villatoro said. “We are a mainly male, mainly CIS male organization, so any form of criticism is helpful in making sure we are inclusive of all communities.”
In February, many Penn students voiced their concerns to the administration about sexual assault reporting guidelines during the biannual University Council Open Forum.
The Consent Collaborative began meeting this past fall, and is in the process of structuring the group.
“It’s something that I personally feel very proud to be a part of. It feels very necessary,” Doolittle said. “I think it’s a group that’s going to do a lot of good for the Penn violence community.”