“Consent is sexy.” “Yes means yes.” “Kiss me, I’m sober.” These were some of the messages communicated nearly ubiquitously at this year’s Full Moon on the Quad (FMOTQ).
Were these aphorisms followed in practice? Reports available one week after the event indicate that the rhetoric was a success.
The event concluded without a single transport, a rarity in recent FMOTQ history, and without any reports of sexual assault.
“What people love about the Full Moon on the Quad is the culture of irreverence that is associated with it, and we want to be able to perpetuate that while still ensuring the safety of the students,” said Jotthe Kannappan ’16, junior class president and event planner.
This year’s planning committee placed emphasis on Title IX issues because of the University’s new affirmative consent policy, which stems from the recently passed California Senate Bill 967. SB-967 threatens to withhold federal funding from California colleges and universities that do not have adequate sexual misconduct policies, including an affirmative consent standard.
Will Fowler ’17, who works in the Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse (SARA) Office and is co-leading the ASSU Sexual Assault Task Force on sexual violence, said that affirmative consent applies to FMOTQ because now a verbal affirmation must be received during every step of sexual intercourse.
“It provides the strict, judicial framework for, in this moment, if you want to kiss someone, you must get consent,” he said.
Jordyn Irwin ’16, a Peer Health Educator (PHE) in Rinconada House, attended FMOTQ with one eye on how students, particularly freshmen, were handling affirmative consent. She said she did not hear of any problems regarding sexual misconduct that night, nor did she witness much conduct at all.
“It seemed like not as many people were kissing as I remembered it being like my freshman year, and I was thinking about how that very well could be a product of all of the talk about affirmative consent,” she said. “I think mostly because when it becomes on people’s radars, they start to realize how awkward it seems to kiss a total stranger.”
Freshmen, with only secondhand accounts of past events to compare this year to, still noticed fewer people kissing than was hyped. Harry Elliott ’18 attended his first Full Moon this year and was surprised by the relatively low level of kissing, a tradition that goes hand in hand with the annual event.
“I was expecting a glorified makeout session, essentially just people wildly kissing each other,” he said. “No more than half of the people there were seriously engaged in making out.”
In year’s past, a countdown to midnight more or less commenced the kissing, while this year’s event, running only from 10:45 p.m. to 12:15 a.m., omitted the countdown and began and ended earlier, limiting the window for kissing but also, as Irwin noticed, for pre-gaming.
“Wednesday night there’s house meeting, so everyone is brought together and time pre-gaming is reduced,” Irwin said.
While the event planners cannot control how much drinking occurs before the event, they can ensure that anyone who is visibly drunk will not be let in by checking everyone who enters the Quad. Kannappan said that, as with every other school-sanctioned event, safety regarding alcohol is paramount, though admittedly difficult to plan for.
“The fact that nobody got transported this year is just sheer luck,” Kannappan said. “There’s not much we can do in terms of planning the event to stop people from pre-gaming. I do think something that helped this year was making the event time run shorter than it has in the past.”
The Band played at midnight this year rather than leading up to the countdown, another change implemented to restructure the event. The Tree, William Funk ’16, walked around all night kissing anyone who wanted to participate in another pillar of the event or merely check off the middle square of a bingo board. To assist him in navigating the crowd, Funk enrolled five friends he deemed the Tree Protective Services (TPS).
In addition to crowd control, the TPS made sure Funk was spreading awareness, not germs. The TPS, sporting shirts printed with slogans for affirmative consent, gave Funk mouthwash between every few kisses and passed out “Consent is sexy” stickers.
“The Tree has always been a focus of the event,” Funk said. “This year I saw that focus and saw that I wanted to use it as a method of becoming more of this role model-esque figure for the student body.”
Contact Tristan Vanech at tvanech ‘at’ stanford.edu.