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Sunday 24 March 2019

Apology to UCD students as 'consent app' proposal sparks uproar

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Stock photo
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

A leading professor at University College Dublin (UCD) has apologised after an email detailing a medicine student's proposal for a 'consent app' sparked outrage.

The proposal for the app 'Consent' claimed it would "allow for others to quickly verify their consent prior to sexual activities".

Users could "electronically sign/verify a pre-made contract before sex, to ensure consent is recorded".

The School of Computer Science emailed the medicine student's proposal on Monday to all postgraduate, third-year and final-year students in the department and said it "may be of interest" to them.

However, the proposal for the app, which claimed to "fight the ever-growing fear for men to be sued post-intercourse", was widely criticised by students who received the email.

It read: "Due to consent not being recorded/denied/retracted the life-destroying ramifications that follow, as well as allowing for a clear opportunity if the other, for instance female, does not wish to continue with the act - and leaves out the lack of communication which is responsible for the destruction of thousands of lives each year."

The head of the School of Computer Science, Professor Pádraig Cunningham, issued an apology to all students yesterday and said the email should not have been forwarded on.

In emails seen by the Irish Independent, Prof Cunningham wrote: "An email you received on Monday, March 11, 2019 with the subject heading 'Fwd: Urgent' was not reviewed and approved by the UCD School of Computer Science before it was forwarded to our students.

"The school emailing lists should not have been used to circulate this email. It was issued in error. Please disregard the email.

"On behalf of the school, I would like to sincerely apologise to the students who have received this email and for the offence it has caused."

Jade Wilson, a student at UCD and the student union's co-ordinator for gender equality campaigns this year, said she was "appalled" to hear that the email was sent to hundreds of students.

"It indicates a culture of nonchalance around consent and women's safety. It's clear that the developer of the app's primary concern is not the safety of women nor is it to ensure that all sexual encounters are consensual. The primary concern is to protect men from accusations of rape," Ms Wilson said. Other students described the proposal as "toxic masculinity at its finest".

UCD Students' Union president Barry Murphy said the idea behind the app was "worrying".

Irish Independent

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