Students learn boundaries through dance workshop

At the closing of Women’s History Month, Baruch College’s Office of Student Life hosted a “Consent Through Dance” workshop to teach students about the importance of consent in all areas of life.

The event, which was held on March 27, did exactly what its title suggested: used dancing exercises to teach attendees about how to give consent and rejection, how to accept a “no” and how and why consent is needed.

The seminar was led by Emma Kaywin, who teaches consent workshops at bars and clubs, and consisted of a series of physical activities, followed by discussions about how participants felt about them. Kaywin taught the group her acronym for consent, “FIRE,” which stands for Freely given, Informed, Reversible/Revocable and Enthusiastic. Each dance activity had some relation to how to give consent or dissent, or how it feels to be in situations in which consent is necessary.

In the first activity, participants took turns giving directions to their partner, instructing one another through hand signals to either come closer, stop, or get further away. Here, the lesson was to listen to what other people said and respect how they wanted their bodies to be treated. Another exercise involved creating a six-step dance routine using only non-verbal communication with their partner, the point being to demonstrate how body language can effectively communicate ideas, instructions and intentions.

Baruch senior Dan Cheng said that she had fun at the workshop, while also learning how to handle uncomfortable situations that require consent.

“I enjoyed the dance,” the corporate communications major said. “I enjoyed it with my partner, and we had a good practice and experience. I feel like I learned knowledge about how to consent, how to reject people who I don’t feel I [want to] dance with, and I learned some knowledge or skills with that.”

The event was organized primarily by OSL’s Assistant Director of Student Activities Crystal Tejada.

“The goal of the event was to help students navigate how tough it is to ask for consent or say no,” Tejada said. “I’m part of the sexual harassment and assault prevention committee through the division of student affairs and we are always looking for different ways to provide students with resources that they can use in real life and navigating tough situations where they may feel uncomfortable or need to get out a situation that they don’t want to be in is important and we want to make sure to educate student.”

“Consent Through Dance” attendee Daniel Gomez said that he felt the workshop conveyed a good message — one that everybody ought to learn.

“I feel like it reinforced the ideas of consent and we still have a long way to go because not a lot of people are informed on that,” he said. “Fortunately, I was good enough to know about consent from a very small age and just knowing that you have to respect a woman and stuff like that. Just respect anyone, respect a human being, honestly.”