The University of Sydney Union is set to dramatically change its Radical Sex and Consent Week after participation numbers reached “an all-time low” this year.
At Friday’s Board meeting, Louise Anthony, Director of Student Programs, said students were not engaging with the festival, despite extra marketing and additional efforts this year.
Immediate Past President Courtney Thompson, a champion of the program and first student director of the festival in 2015, suggested that the festival required one student director or staff “in its corner” to really “push for it”.
“There’s hardly any effort put into it,” she said at the Board meeting. “The year that I’m not around, it goes.”
President Liliana Tai insisted that the event had not been “scrapped”, but instead would be condensed into a branch of a new yet-unnamed festival that promotes wellbeing and sexual health. She said the USU still intended to run many of the current panel sessions in a new format.
“This was largely due to the decline in attendance and engagement over the past few years,” she said.
“Even this year, most of the festival was not well attended despite increased resources and effort from our programs staff and [campus activity coordinators].”
After “robust discussion” at a Student Programs planning session, it was decided that Radical Sex and Consent Week would not continue in its current three-day form on the 2019 calendar.
The education and awareness program of the week will continue, but not in it’s own dedicated event.
CEO Andrew Woodward added at the meeting that the name of the program didn’t engage with the broader student body.
The event originated in 2014 after then-Vice President Bebe D’Souza campaigned for the inclusion of the concept after its success at the University of Melbourne.
Tai maintained that “education around sexual health and consent is still critical”, and would remain in the USU’s festival program, albeit in a shortened setting, combined with other wellbeing-related events.
Madeline Ward, SRC Wom*n’s Officer, said they were “incredibly disappointed that the USU has decided to axe Rad Sex and Consent Week with no consultation with the women’s collective or the SRC.”
Additional reporting by Elijah Abraham.