York freshers walk out of ‘patronising’ sex talk after student posing as official urges boycott

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Students at York University walked out of a talk on “sexual consent” after a male undergraduate posing as a member of staff persuaded them it was “patronising”.

The University of York’s first year “fresher” students were asked to attend a compulsory fire safety talk, followed by an optional discussion on how to prevent, intervene and report incidents of sexual assault and rape on campus.

But the university’s newspaper, Norse, reported that a third year student posing as a university official and distributed flyers on official headed notepaper, telling them: “Consent talks are patronising. If students really need lessons in how to say yes or no, they should not be at university.”

Around a quarter of those present left before the session on sexual assault.

The student newspaper quoted the protestor as saying that such talks: “propagate the backward message that all women are potential victims and all men potential rapists”.

The university’s welfare officer, Dom Smithies, said: “Sexual violence is, sadly, a reality. Putting in place measures to ensure students are better informed to both prevent it and to highlight the support and services that are available is the right thing to do.”