Consciousness-Raising at Oberlin College During the Second Wave: Gender and Sexuality Conferences and Workshops

Part 1: Student-Focused Consciousness Raising     |      Part 2: Staff-Focused Consciousness Raising
Part 3: Administrative Response to Consciousness Raising    |     Appendices

Document 5: Workshop on Unwanted Sexual Activity    |       Document 6: John Thompson to George Langeler, 15 October 1987
Document 7: Letter from Jan Cooper to George Langeler      |      Document 8: Unwanted Sexual Activity Brochure

Document 8:

Title: Unwanted Sexual Activity Brochure

Author: Oberlin College Department of Residential Life and Services.

Date: February 1988

Location:  “Rape on Campus Workshop” 1988. Series I. Administrative Records, Subseries 14. Subject Files, Box 2. Dean of Students Papers, RG 12, O.C.A.

Document Type: Printed Document


Content Warning: discussion of rape and sexual assault., and detailed description of a hypothetical date rape.




The following brochure is the one of the results of the consciousness raising workshop on “Unwanted Sexual Activity” for Oberlin College’s faculty and administration in 1987. Produced the following year, this brochure for students offers a comprehensive look at what the administration felt was important information regarding sexual assault and harassment. It includes a definition of unwanted sexual activity, ways to avoid unwanted sexual activity for both potential perpetrators and potential victims, campus resources and legal options. Of particular note is a fictional account of unwanted sexual activity in the form of date rape that shows the perspectives of both the victim and perpetrator. While like many documents within this mini-edition, some of the ways that rape is treated or conceptualized are deeply problematic by today’s standards, overall this brochure reveals a good effort on the part of the college to deal with unwanted sexual activity and rape on their campus. It offers detailed information on both resources and legal remedies, as well as giving students something of a template for articulating a problem with a sexual encounter. Coming from a consciousness raising session, this brochure offers a significant attempt at creating a real solution for the problem of unwanted sexual activity, and reflects a growing understanding among administrators as to the seriousness of this problem.


Note: all bolding and capitalization in this document is original


Original                       Both                    Transcription





Unwanted Sexual Activity

Unwanted sexual activity between acquaintances is currently being recognized more often as a problem for students on college campuses. While most people think mainly of rape when the topic is discussed, unwanted sexual activity can include all kinds of behaviors from unwanted touching to forced intercourse. Experience and research at Oberlin shows that students on our campus have experienced various forms of unwanted sexual activity. The purpose of this pamphlet is to acknowledge that unwanted sexual activity, including rape, does occur; to discuss ways to minimize your chances of experiencing it; and, to tell you what to do if it happens to you.




Ways to Avoid Circumstances that may lead to Unwanted Sexual Activity including Acquaintance Rape…![1]


ACCEPT YOUR PARTNER’S DECISION. No means no. Don’t read in other meanings. Don’t continue after your partner says no.


YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS. KNOW YOUR SEXUAL DESIRES AND LIMITS. Your feelings may be beyond your control, but, you actions are within your control. Sexual excitement does not justify forced sex.


BEING TURNED DOWN WHEN YOU ASK FOR SEXUAL RELATIONS IS NOT A REJECTION OF YOU PERSONALLY. Don’t think you are “rejecting” someone by saying no. Passivity might be interpreted as permission.






BE AWARE THAT YOUR NON-VERBAL BEHAVIOR SENDS MESSAGES. Both men and women learn the subtle cues to being seductive and some people employ them heavily. Be aware if you are one of these people and be prepared to clarify your desires.




ALCOHOL AND DRUGS INTERFERE WITH CLEAR THINKING AND EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION. In addition, being under the influence is not an excuse for coercive sexual behavior. In some cases, being sexually intimate with someone who is unable to give consent because they are under the influence is a crime in the state of Ohio.


TRUST YOUR INTUITION if you are uncomfortable with any part of a social or sexual interaction. If you are uncomfortable don’t worry about being thought of as “rude.” Where there is genuine caring and trust, intimacy can be re-established.





He was in a class of mine and I was attracted by the way he seemed to be able to argue so well with the teacher. He was very bright, and very sure of himself. But, he also seemed sensitive-he seemed really concerned about social issues. We talked a few times and then one day he asked me if I was going to be at a certain party. Since I was, I said sure – I’d look for him.

I got to the party with some friends of mine before he did. When he came in, we started talking and it was great. He suggested we go for a walk around the Res because it was very hot and noisy inside which we did. When he suggested we go to his room instead of back to the party, it made me a little nervous because I knew I didn’t want to sleep with him; but, I also really liked being with him so I said ok.

When we got to his room we sat on the mattress on the floor because that was the only furniture. He suggested a neckrub which I thought would be ok and pretty soon we were making out which made me really nervous because he was getting really turned on. I said we should stop and tried to push him away, but he didn’t seem to hear and kept on going. I started to panic, feeling really stupid and embarrassed and just sort of blanked out waiting for him to stop. Intercourse only took about 2 minutes; I didn’t say or do anything and it was painful. When it was done, I cried. He said he didn’t understand what “my problem was” and offered to walk me home. I just wanted to leave, so I did by myself and haven’t talked to him since.


I couldn’t believe how beautiful this woman in my Religion class was. So, when she seemed to be looking at me a lot and getting involved in arguments I was having with the professor, I thought – “cool- she likes me.” I’d seen her at a couple of house parties too, so when the next party came around, I asked her beforehand if she was thinking of being there. She was and so we agreed to look for each other. I was psyched; she seemed so interested and her look said she would be cool- I was really tired of cold women.

I wasn’t sure how quickly we could get to a “meaningful” level of interaction, but, I knew we’d get nowhere at that party. There were a lot of loud “party animals” and it was hard to talk so I thought a walk would be a good way to get her to come over to my room.

When we got there she seemed really warm and friendly and open to being physical. And, I was really ready to get close. I knew she’d be nervous; women always are the first time their with a guy, so I thought a little backrub would loosen things up.

She was up for it, so, I figured that was the go ahead. At one point she pushed me away and started to back away. I knew she wanted more reassurance, so I told her that she really turned me on and that she should relax. It would be cool. Afterwards when she started to cry, I was blown away. It made me mad; what a frigid bitch. She couldn’t get off- so she cries. Well, I offered to walked her home but she didn’t want anything to do with me by then. She’s been really cold in class too. I’m not about to check out why. I’ve been shot down enough by her.





If you have an unwanted sexual experience you may need the assistance of the following College resources…


            If you believe you are the victim of acquaintance rape or sexual assault, and need immediate assistance, contact Campus Security (775-8444) who will also contact a College Dean and/or Rape Education Coordinator to provide immediate support and assistance to you. The Security staff has your wellbeing as its primary concern; they have been trained to treat you with respect and sensitivity. They will ensure that you receive prompt and appropriate medical attention. They will also notify the Oberlin Police and if you wish to file civil charges, Security will assist you. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT EVEN THOUGH YOU SOUGHT ASSISTANCE FROM COLLEGE SECURITY OR THE OBERLIN POLICE, YOU WILL NOT BE OBLIGATED TO FOLLOW ANY FORMAL PROCEDURE OR TO PRESS CHARGES UNLESS YOU CHOOSE TO.

Please remember that if you have been rpaed, it is important that you recieve prompt medical attention for the collection of evidence, and, for prevention of disease and pregnancy.



            The Rape Education Coordinator, Janet Stocks (775-8723), provides counseling and advice to persons who have been the victims of sexual assault and other unwanted sexual activity. If you believe you have been the victim of such an experience, she may be helpful in clarifying your experience and advising you about campus resources.

The Residential Life Deans- Nancy Cooper, Sherry Gutman and Richard Ford (775-8471) – are also available to provide counseling and assistance. They are familiar with the various College disciplinary procedures and can help in identifying those procedures for you if that course of action seems appropriate. What you finally decide to do will remain in your hands. You are in charge- others are available to help you.

Student Sexual Assault Support Team (775-8429) provides counseling and advice to persons who have experienced any form of sexual assault including rape. You can reach this 24-hour hotline by calling 775-8429. A counselor-on-call will be contacted and return your call immediately.

PERSONS WHO HAVE BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED FREQUENTLY EXPERIENCE BOTH PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE. Even if you decide not to report the incident to the authorities, for your own well-being you should seek medical and counseling assistance. Psychological Services, the College Physician, the Office of Chaplains, your Residence Hall Director or RC, and the Sexual Information Center (SIC) may all be resources for you.




Under Ohio law, rape occurs when a person engages in sexual intercouse, fellatio, or cunniligus with another person through the use of force, threat of force or by forcefully, deceitfully, or surreptitiously administering intoxicants. Sexual battery occurs when a person engages in sexual intercourse, fellatio, or cunnilingus with another through the use of coercion or when a person’s ability to appraise a situation or control his or her own conduct is substantially impaired. Both rape and sexual battery are felony crimes in the state of Ohio.

Unwanted sexual activity is defined as any sexual activity to which any party involved does not give full and free consent. Consent to sexual activity must be explicit either verbally or by overt action. A verbal “no,” no matter how indecisive or insincere it may sound, constitutes a lack of consent.

The Student Regulations, Policies and Procedures Handbook addresses the issue of sexual assaults, rape, harassment and all types of non-consensual sexual activity in the section titled Misconduct, specifically the regulations prohibit:

“Threats to physical or mental well-being of members of the College community, e.g. physical assaults, threats of violence, sale or provision of drugs, defamations and slander of others, excessive noise, fire, coercive behavior, and unwanted sexual activity.” (p. 68, 1987-88 Student Regulations, Policies, and Procedures.)

The Oberlin College community is committed to preserving the dignity and safety of its members. It will not tolerate sexual assault in any form including acquaintance rape. Where there is probable cause to believe that the campus regulations prohibiting sexual assault or unwanted sexual activity have been violated, the College will support individuals who wish to pursue disciplinary action through the student judicial process. Sanctions can include removal from the residence hall community, probation, suspension or dismissal from the College.

A student charged with sexual assault can be prosecuted under Ohio criminal status and disciplined under the College’s code of student conduct. These actions are separate and not dependent upon one another.



[1] Italics in the original.