'Actually' stresses the importance of consent
In an effort to spread awareness about sexual assault and the importance of consent, Hofstra hosted a performance of the play “Actually,” as well as an informational talk back that followed on the night of Tuesday, Sept. 25. This performance took place in the Helene Fortunoff Theater and was open for all students to attend for free.
Lisa Merrill, the dramaturg of “Actually” and a professor in the Rhetoric and Women’s Studies departments at Hofstra, commented on the timeliness of the performance, explaining that with the then-upcoming Kavanaugh-Ford hearings as well as the ongoing phenomenon of the #MeToo movement, there was no better time to put on this play. “None of us could have known that we would be in this moment in time,” Merrill said.
This play involves two characters, Tom and Amber, played by Jamel Hudson and Dena Brody, respectively, who face difficult situations involving topics such as consent, race, gender and assault. There were counselors on site at the performance for students to speak with if any of the material in the play was too upsetting for them to handle.
After the performance, there was a talk back with a panel of board members from different departments at Hofstra, including Title IX, the Intercultural Engagement and Inclusion Center and the Student Advocacy and Prevention Awareness office. Representatives from the offices of Residence Life and the Assistant Dean of Students were also present. Merrill commented on the importance of this talk-back for students, saying, “I wanted people to have a face to go with the names and offices to make that a more accessible thing.”
A big topic of discussion during the talk-back was the importance of Title IX on a college campus. Hofstra’s Title IX policy is that two people engaging in sexual activity must have affirmative consent, meaning “yes means yes” as opposed to the standard “no means no” mentality. In hearings for sexual assault cases, Hofstra representatives stated that the university takes pride in the professionalism and equity of their hearings. “We have really good board members that are trained annually … they’re not going to ask a lot of questions pertaining to tacit consent,” said Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Community Standards Heather DePierro. The overall consensus of the play was that it made students feel safer. “I felt scared knowing that we are unaware of how many Title IX cases Hofstra faces on a yearly basis, but at the same time it’s really good to know how confidential everything is kept,” said sophomore education major Madeline Oldham.