Author Vanessa Grigoriadis knew that if she really wanted a window into what was happening on college campuses in regard to relationships, sex, and consent, she was going to have to go straight to the people to whom it matters the most — the students. It couldn’t be through formal interviews, though. She’d have to talk to kids where they were most at ease: in food courts and dorm rooms, at frat parties.
“I really talked to kids on their own terms and tried to hear their voices,” she says, describing the visits she made to many college campuses while she was researching her book, Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus.
According to Grigoriadis, 73 percent of all sexual assaults on campus occur during what she calls “The Red Zone,” the first six weeks of the first semester. And, most often, those involved are freshman and sophmores who are getting used to new freedoms: drinking and partying more than they are used to, and with people whom they do not know well. To start to curb this, it is important that parents and educators take time to listen to the kids themselves.
“Let’s really try to understand where the kids are coming from,” says Grigoriadis. “The kids themselves are the drivers of change here. They are taking this issue incredibly seriously. It’s a real generational shift in the way that they think about sexual consent.”
In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Grigoriadis shares what she learned from her time on college campuses, and offers suggestions about how we can prepare our children to have healthy relationships once they have gone away to school.
About the Harvard EdCast
The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series of podcasts, available on the Harvard University iTunes U page, that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Matt Weber and co-produced by Jill Anderson, the Harvard EdCast is a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.