When I told people I decided to do my senior capstone project on sexual consent, I will admit I received quite a few strange looks. But there shouldn’t have been! At the end of the day, people have sex. The important question is if that sex is consensual. My name is Caroline Wines and my Capstone project examined the perceptions of college students’ on the topic of sexual consent.
I am Communication and New Media major with a concentration in Strategic Communication. In the Fall of 2016 I began thinking of what topic to address for my capstone and there were so many options. However, it was important to me to focus on something that would be meaningful and have the ability to make an impact. That is when a faculty member brought to my attention the lack of knowledge on sexual consent and how important of a topic it is. Many might have run away at this point, but I embraced the challenge.
I selected Dr. Matthew Kushin as my director for my capstone project. I was considering a few different ideas at the time, but when I brought up the topic of consent he did not shy away. Instead he fully supported the topic and acted as an advocate for me during the course of my research. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at first so he advised me to research and see what others were doing. During my research, I found that there were a lot of speculations based on college students’ perceptions on consent, but it did not seem that anyone had concrete evidence. After learning this, I found survey questions that had been tested in previous research and went to work creating my own survey to conduct on a college campus.
Once my survey I was created, I had to received approval from the Institution Review Board (IRB) before I could send out my survey to students. This is to ensure that individual’s right and welfare are protected, should they decide to participate in my research. In my experience, quite a few revisions had to be made to ensure that participants would not implicate themselves. As a result the process lasted quite a few months and the day I received my approval letter it was equivalent to the same feeling as when I was accepted into college. I then sent my approved survey to students to begin gathering data.
After my survey ran for two weeks I began analyzing my data with SPSS. This allowed for me to run a variety of statistical tests to be able to analyze my survey results. I decided to focus on the differences between males and females in five areas of consent. These areas were perceived behavioral control, attitude towards establishing consent, behavioral approach towards establishing consent, sexual consent norms, and awareness and discussion of sexual consent.
Overall, I found my capstone to be very rewarding process. I also learned a lot and was able to focus on an area that needed to be further researched. My paper was recently sent to the Sparks Journal to be published and I am hoping that others will be able to benefit from my work.
If you are interested in seeing more of my work, feel free to visit my online portfolio.