The University of Maryland SGA discussed healthy relationships and consent Wednesday at their “Conversation Hearts” event in Stamp Student Union.
Student attendees made self-care baskets, filling them with lotions, face masks, condoms and more. The event hoped to encourage students to engage in conversations about the importance of communication in relationships and provide students the opportunity to practice self-care, according to Danica Choi, the director of the Student Government Association’s sexual misconduct prevention committee, which organized the event.
“I wanted to mention not only people in relationships and setting boundaries, but also being single and being in a time of self-care and self-love because not everyone’s in a relationship 24/7,” the senior government and politics major said.
Choi also highlighted the importance of healthy non-romantic relationships, including those community members have with friends or family.
Avery Powers, a sophomore English major, agreed that the need for communication extends beyond romantic relationships. It is especially important to overcome hesitations while verbalizing feelings in relationships, Powers added.
At Monday’s event, students expressed themselves through art and wrote letters, Choi said.
Powers said she appreciated how the event’s activities made discussing sensitive relationship topics easier.
“I enjoyed the arts and crafts aspect while discussing a topic that can be a little more personal and touchy,” Powers said. “It was nice to be able to relax and just color or draw or make something for myself.”
The event also included a discussion led by Charlotte Sheffield, an assistant coordinator at this university’s Campus Advocates Respond and Educate to Stop Violence office in the University Health Center. Sheffield emphasized the importance of setting boundaries in relationships.
Communicating boundaries in a relationship, new or existing, can be very difficult, she said. Sheffield added that Monday’s SGA event was important because it will help students learn how to communicate as they enter new relationships.
“Oftentimes, we don’t talk about what we need or we don’t think about it and don’t know how to communicate it,” Sheffield said. “[We] really wanted people to know that their boundaries matter, their feelings matter, and to have some space to strategize about how to talk about it.”
Moving forward, Sheffield encouraged students interested in discussing consent or issues in their relationships to make an appointment with this university’s CARE to Stop Violence office. The office offers confidential advocacy, therapy services and education and outreach workshops.