CCEs talk sexual climate creatively

At Viva’s, students participate in discussion led by CCEs about issues that seniors face in their final year at Yale.
At Viva’s, students participate in discussion led by CCEs about issues that seniors face in their final year at Yale. Photo by Aleksandra Gjorgievska.

“Tequila ginger ale,” Chloe Drimal ’13 said. “Or just tequila.”

Three other seniors seated around Drimal at a long table in the back room of Viva Zapata Bar agreed with a laugh, as more students in the room shouted out the names of their favorite alcoholic beverages.

But unlike a typical group of friends chatting over nachos at Viva’s, the seniors were gathered for “SWUGLIFE: A Colloquium,” an informal panel discussion on issues seniors tackle in their final year on campus. The event was organized by the Communication and Consent Educators program, which Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd ’89 said was launched last fall in part to foster organic, informal discussions about Yale’s sexual culture.

Through a mix of unconventional activities and more traditional workshops, the group has begun a flurry of initiatives early this year and are building on student feedback, Boyd said, adding that the 40 undergraduate CCEs interacted with 3,610 undergraduates in the program’s first year.

All three students interviewed at the panel in Viva’s said they enjoyed the event.

“I like the fact that they did this in a bar, where people can be casual and talk about things that matter,” Jessica Tordoff ’15 said. “It wasn’t a boring discussion in WLH — it was different.”

Boyd said CCEs aim to start campus dialogue and create a “shared language” rather than prescribe policies to students. Because sexual misconduct is a constantly evolving issue, CCE Emily Hong ’13 said the group must continually adjust its efforts to meet immediate student needs and tackle issues as they arise.

As freshmen prepared for their first Safety Dance last week, CCE Kevin Vargas ’15 said the Pierson CCEs offered upperclassmen a ticket to a Shake Shack gift card lottery for providing advice to freshmen on their first college-wide party. The Davenport CCEs held a “falafel focus group” for the same purpose, and the CCEs placed table tents displaying the best answers in the Pierson and Davenport dining halls.

Vargas said the CCEs intend to replicate the process for Trolley Night, which is set to take place in Calhoun College this Friday.

“Though some upperclassmen in Davenport might have initially been drawn by the free falafel, students ended up having a great and meaningful discussion,” Hong ’14 said.

Since campus-wide parties and social activities are usually affiliated with student groups, Boyd said the CCEs are striving to work with organizations to make events safer for students.

Hong added that such cooperation will likely take the form of interactive workshops and discussions.

Boyd said the program has continued to implement initiatives that received largely positive feedback last year, such as the sexual consent workshops for freshmen. During the workshops, which freshman counselor groups attend individually, freshmen learn how to navigate seemingly harmless situations that could lead to sexual misconduct by observing a role-play scenario in which a student is pressured to get froyo as an example.

Eleven of 20 freshmen interviewed said they benefited from the sexual consent workshop. Jessica Leao ’16 said the workshop “was run very maturely, but in a fun, accessible way.”

Gina Starfield ’16 called the workshop “silly,” and said that it made no real impact on her or her friends.

“The workshop turned the idea of consenting into more of a joke than a real issue on campus,” she said. “I now laugh when a friend of mine asks me to get froyo.”

Out of 30 students interviewed who have taken part in one or more CCE initiative, 22 said they think the program has positively influenced their college experience.

“Even if you don’t agree with every aspect of the program, you can’t deny that providing a space for students to talk [about issues of sexual misconduct] has some merit,” Eamon Ronan ’15 said.

The CCE program is run by the Yale College Dean’s Office.

Correction: Oct. 5

A previous version of this article misattributed a quote from Jessica Tordoff ’15 to Hanna Morikami ’13.


  • iggis

    Dear Yale Dean,

    You got your roles confused.

    Your roles are to prosecute the sex offenders, to help the victims, and to make sure Yale members know that their actions have consequences.

    Your roles include you yourself complying with laws. So do not protect the offenders. Use the tools you have (such as the campus police and the college code of conduct.) Involve, and do not preclude New Haven, CT, and Federal law enforcement.

    If you want to play with your ding-a-ling while people hold seminars, that’s your personal business and your personal business only.

    • DaletDaleEtYale

      Conventional wisdom would have us believe that being a, “sexual preditor” is not a choice. But, bieng a bigot certainly is.

      • iggis

        Learning to spell correctly at Yale is not only a choice. It is imperative. Yes, call me what you will. The Yale administrators are ineffective, stinking half-assed bureaucrats. More than anything else, they are content to do nothing while playing with their ding-a-lings. Their fathers and mothers should be ashamed of them. Their own kids should be ashamed of them. I suppose you all want to be stupid like Harvard.

  • inycepoo

    > Boyd said the program has continued to implement initiatives that received largely positive feedback last year, such as the sexual consent workshops for freshmen.

    That workshop was the biggest waste of an hour that I’ve ever had the misfortune of being forced to suffer through at Yale. I have yet to encounter someone who has enjoyed it (outside of being quoted in the YDN, that is).

    The CCE program is useless as it stands. Quit lying to yourselves, administrators. C’mon.

  • The Anti-Yale

    I suggest a written consent form.

    When two (or more?!) people of whatever configuration of genders, decide they want to become touching-friends, they should fill in a bubble sheet consent forms for various degrees of intimacy, and sign it.

    No form. No touching. No misunderstood signals.

    J. Swift

    • Branford73

      Antioch College almost came to that–to national derision, deservedly.

      I would say the effort to harden the targets of sexual misconduct are worthwhile, and I doubt anyone thinks it’s a panacea. Those who thought it was boring were probably hardened already, and good for them. I daresay there might be some freshmen (men and women) at Yale who are more vulnerable than others. It doesn’t excuse offenders nor does it blame victims by helping kids reduce their vulnerabilities.