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This content was first published 3 years ago and may be superseded by events or new information. Please bear this in mind when evaluating this news article.


USI runs a Sexual Health Health Awareness campaign and launches a survey on campuses across Ireland.

Today the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) launched a Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) campaign running from the 10th -14th February. The campaign will include the launch of a ‘Sexual Experiences Survey’ with NUI Galway Active Consent, the distribution of 30,000 ‘SHAG Packs’, as well providing information on sexual health. The theme for this year is Sexual Empowerment amongst students.


USI President, Lorna Fitzpatrick says:

“The main focus of this campaign is to promote positive attitudes towards sex and raise awareness of all aspects of sexual health. In Ireland, talking about sex can still be considered a taboo subject and USI believes it is important to break through these barriers and encourage people to practice safer sex and to look after their sexual health.


The truth is that many young people do not receive adequate relationships and sexual education while in school and for many the first time they learn about their sexual health is when they come to college. The USI continues to lobby for a more inclusive and evidence-based RSE programme for primary and secondary schools to ensure young people have experience of these conversations before going to college.

This campaign allows us to directly reach 30,000 students with information about masturbation, consent, abortion information and sexual transmitted infections.”


As part of the SHAG 2020 campaign, USI and NUI Galway Active Consent are working together in launching a national online students’ survey for third level students; the Sexual Experiences Survey (SES). The survey is designed to gain an insight on students’ experiences of sexual violence, attitudes towards consent, and perceptions of HEI supportsand responses to sexual misconduct.


The Sexual Experiences Survey will help to address the knowledge gap by surveying students across all HEIs in the Republic of Ireland affiliated with USI. Survey findings will be presented in a report later in 2020 that highlights priorities across the HEI sector for prevention, awareness, and skills development.


Dr Lorraine Burke, NUI Galway Post-Doctoral Researcher, leading the survey implementation said:

“The 2019 Department of Education Consent Framework identified goals for HEIs in supporting students’ positive sexual health and to contend with the problem of sexual harassment and violence. The Sexual Experiences Survey will make sure we get comprehensive, up to date information on our students’ awareness of services, the prevalence of negative experiences, and the positive role of students in supporting a culture of respect”.

Dr Pádraig MacNeela, Senior Lecturer in Psychology in NUI Galway and Active Consent programme leader said:

“The issue of sexual violence and harassment will only be addressed successfully when all of us join forces and act together. We are delighted to partner with USI to carry out this important survey. Each of us brings important strengths, and through collaboration with third level colleges we aim to get a full picture of positive and negative student experiences. Once we know that information we can use it to help target sexual health education and supports”.


USI Vice President for Welfare, Róisín O’Donovan says:


“USI is delighted to be launching this survey in collaboration with NUI Galway Active consent on this important topic for students. The last time USI did a national survey on consent was the ‘Say Something’ survey in 2013, so it’s time for more up to date data to be reflective of the student society at the moment in Ireland. We’re looking forward to gaining a better insight into students’ sexual experiences and how we can best move forward with the ‘Consent



The survey can be found at



  • The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) represent over 374,000 students across the island of Ireland

  • The SHAG acronym stands for Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance.

  • The SHAG packs are funded by HSE Sexual Health Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP).

  • SHAG week is a week-long Campaign Roadshow where USI and support services will be visiting IT Carlow (ITC), Institute of Art & Design Technology (IADT), NUI Galway (NUIG) and Athlone IT (AIT) to distribute 30,000 packs and information.

  • USI have partnered with NUI Galway Active Consent to run the Sexual Experiences Survey.

  • The Active Consent Programme, NUI Galway, is a multidisciplinary programme led by Dr Pádraig MacNeela (Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology), Dr Charlotte McIvor (Lecturer, Drama and Theatre Studies), Dr Siobhán O’Higgins (Research Fellow, School of Psychology), and Kate Dawson (School of Psychology). It is supported by a Galway-based philanthropic organisation, Lifes2good Foundation, for a four year programme of research and implementation on active consent, with support from NUI Galway and the Arts to Impact programme at Social Innovation Fund Ireland. Lifes2good Foundation is a Galway-based charity with a primary focus on women and children experiencing vulnerability. Its supports preventative as well as remedial strategies, including capital projects, operational programmes and initiatives that focus on attitudinal change. Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) is a Government-created charity using philanthropy to promote social innovation. SIFI provides growth capital and supports to the best social innovations in Ireland.

  • The Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, launched the Department of Education & Skills ‘Consent Framework’ launched in April 2019.

  • This identified a major gap in our knowledge of the prevalence of sexual violence and harassment among HEI students, on positive student attitudes to consent, and on awareness of college supports.

  • USI ran the ‘Say Something Survey’ in 2013.

  • Survey is targeting colleges during 2 week periods beginning from February 10th 2020.

  • The survey can be found at

  • The campaign can be followed on hashtags: #SHAG2020 #SexualEmpowerment #SDG3 #SES #ActiveConsent

For press queries: Lorna Fitzpatrick 087-2763941

PHOTOS [attached]

Date: Monday, 10th February

Location: IT Carlow

Photocall includes: Union of Students in Ireland (USI), IT Carlow Students’ Union, Health Service Executive (HSE), National Womens’ Council of Ireland (NWCI), Sexual Health West and Active Consent.

Photo with one person: “Róisín O’Donovan, USI Vice President for Welfare, tells students around Ireland that sexual empowerment and their sexual health is in their hands”

This content was first published 3 years ago and may be superseded by events or new information. Please bear this in mind when evaluating this news article.