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Spilling the Tea on Consent

The President’s Garden on Freshers’ Week had a softer feel to it at the launch of the
“#askconsent” campaign. The theme of the sexual consent awareness event was ‘tea party’, a
nod towards the Tea Consent video usually shown to incoming freshers as a way of teaching
new students what consent is. A long tea party table and endless cups of tea were set up by the
Student Unions of UCC and CIT supported by Cork Sexual Violence Centre and City Council.

The event scheduled for one o’clock did not kick off until about a half an hour later, due to the
high demand for #askconsent temporary tattoos from Mary Crilly, one of the speakers at the
event. The spiral shaped temporary tattoos were worn by members of the Gardaí, students and
council members present.

UCC’s Student Union President Ben Dunlea provided an introduction to the event and spoke
about UCC’s stance on consent. He told the crowd, “UCC is an institution that places the well-
being of its students as a top priority. Events like this serve to send a strong message: UCC is a
zero-tolerance campus in relation to sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

The Student Union President then went on to introduce the next speaker, the Lord Mayor of
Cork, John Sheehan. The Lord Mayor of Cork recognised the “fantastic atmosphere”
surrounding him at UCC’s Freshers’ Week. He continued his speech, speaking strongly about
his and the city’s support for the campaign. He said optimistically, “As a city we hope to do our

Chief Superintendent, Barry McPolin, from An Garda Síochána was the next person to take to
the microphone. His speech was mingled with words of caution for students and his personal
experiences. He acknowledged, that the “#askconsent” campaign is not a complete solution to
sexual assaults and harassments shadowing the campus environment. He admitted that “there
are always issues”.

The Chief Superintendent then, reflected on his role as a parent of a college student. His own
daughter is a student at UCC. He said, as a parent “We, [parents], are always worried when our
kids go out.”

He also had this message to share with students as a member of the Gardaí, “they, [students],
have to be aware of themselves when they go out, not to take drugs. It’s an offense anyway.”
Mary Crilly had the last speech to give to the gathering at the tea party. She began her piece by
holding a giant #askconsent lollipop shaped sign and telling the crowd “You hardly thought I was
just going to leave three men speak now, did yeah?” She got laughter from the crowd in
response. Mary Crilly was highlighted as one of the key speakers and advocators at the
“#askconsent” launch. She has over thirty six years of experience helping survivors of sexual
attacks in the Cork Sexual Violence Centre.

Her message to UCC students, was one of understanding and encouragement, “I want students
both male and female to hear that if this happens to them start talking about it, tell about it. Don’t
take it as your shame.”

She ended her piece in the comedic fashion she had started it with, “I’ll let the men back to take
The event was drawn to an end with Student Union President, Ben Dunlea giving thanks to
those who had helped but the event together and supported the #askconsent movement. The
event was closed with a screening of the Tea Consent video.