By Corinna Del Debbio, BA Politics and International Relations
Content warning: sexual and gender-based violence
Enough is Enough successfully ran 78 workshops again this year, with the vast majority of SOAS freshers participating. The aim of the campaign is to tackle the vast disparities in how sexual education is taught, both globally and within the UK, in order to ensure there is a commonality of knowledge amongst the SOAS community at the offset of everyone’s time here.
Enough is Enough has been an important part of SOAS’ efforts to produce a consent culture in campus for 5 years now. Every year, the campaign runs workshops – which became mandatory in 2017 – for the freshers which cover various topics surrounding consent. The workshops have usually run in person during the first week of Freshers, in September. However, due to Covid-19 the campaign had to adapt to a digital format. From the offset, there were clashes between the campaign and the Students’ Union (SU) as to what format the workshops should take this year, and how to best adapt to online learning.
The SU had pushed to develop a Moodle page on the topics covered by the consent workshops, with a tick-box test at the end for everyone to fill out. After pressure from previous facilitators mounted, the SU hired a coordinator in December. Previously, this post has usually been advertised in May/June of the previous academic year, and assigned during the Summer. The SU’s approach sparked outrage from previous members of the campaign, many of whom had volunteered to help organise how to run the workshops this year in spite of Covid-19.
The campaign strongly believes that the interactive element of the workshops is pivotal to their functioning. Students involved in the campaign believe that, as consent is already a topic too often left undiscussed, back-benching the workshops to an online Moodle page would harm the creation of a consent culture at SOAS. Ultimately, the campaign managed to secure the running of workshops online, over Zoom, in the first half of the second term.
“This resulted in the two coordinators for this year racking up 100 hours each of unpaid labour”
There were still complications with the SU, primarily due to the budget granted from the School not being enough to ensure a successful facilitation of all of the workshops, the facilitator pay, and the necessary training days involved. The campaign ran with only 16 facilitators this year, which is about half of what previous years have seen. The SU advertised the coordinator posts for the campaign as 8 hours a week, which is about half of the time the campaign coordinators truly needed to ensure a smooth running of the campaign. This resulted in the two coordinators for this year racking up 100 hours each of unpaid labour. One of the SU suggestions to work around the tight budget was paying the facilitators the outdated London Living Wage, rather than the current one of £10.85 an hour.
Primarily, the campaign received encouraging and constructive feedback on the workshops, despite their running online. There were however a few comments, mostly on SOASkmeout, which called out the campaign for the compulsory nature of their workshops, pointing out the potential irony in rendering a workshop about consent mandatory for people to partake. The campaign took this feedback on board, acknowledging that there should be a better ‘opt-out’ system in place for those who do not feel comfortable attending, especially as this is an important element in ensuring the campaign is truly survivor-centred.
The workshops have now come to an end for this academic year, and the campaign is now focusing its efforts on ensuring that its funding can be renewed by the School for another 5 years. Enough is Enough has been included in all of the school’s updated SGBV policy work, and remains a large marketing point for the school, however despite all this the renewed funding has not yet been guaranteed. Currently, Enough is Enough is looking for people to get involved in lobbying the School to ensure that the consent workshops – and the campaign at large – remain in existence.
The SOAS Spirit reached out to the SU who provided the following statement:
‘The SU have supported and worked with Enough is Enough for the 5 years of the project, and will continue to do so as we work to extend the project funding and expand what we can do with the project. At all stages we’ve been working to do as much as we can, and find ways to adapt to our current situation. Sadly, as with all organisations right now, we’ve been hit hard by the pandemic having to adjust everything we do on limited funding, reduced staffing and increased student needs. It’s been great working with the campaign to find creative ways around the problems, and we want to be clear about how much we value this, and do not view this as a ‘clash’. We’re at the centre of the fight for additional resources to do more to support survivors of SGBV and create a consent culture at SOAS, both our officers and staff are involved in a number of projects, working groups and committees across SOAS to help achieve this.
‘SOAS SU is a committed London Living Wage employer and have a policy on this, at no point would we employ anyone below this level. We have contracts of employment setting out expectations and responsibilities, and have always encouraged all employees to raise concerns about working conditions with managers and via our procedures. This has been no different for this campaign. We’re in full agreement that the funding we have for this project is restrictive which is why we’ve been working hard to secure additional funding that will enable the SU and campaign to grow.’
Photo caption: A SOAS student engages with the Enough is Enough Instagram page. (Credit: Frances Howe)