Researchers expand Relationship Remix to Ghana

Sunday, September 25, 2016 - 7:13pm

Many students at the University of Michigan are familiar with Relationship Remix, a first-year residential workshop that explores relationships, sex and consent. Now, two University researchers are working to bring something similar to the University of Cape Coast in Ghana.

Sarah Rominski of the Medical School’s Global REACH initiative, and one of the researchers involved, said the project began when she was approached by a faculty member at Cape Coast who had been a fellow in her department.

Rominski is working with Michelle Munro-Kramer, assistant professor at the School of Nursing, researches gender-based violence and has done fieldwork in several African nations.

The program has been in the works for several years. In September 2015, Rominski went to Ghana and met with faculty and Cape Coast’s sexual assault prevention group, to present the idea, which she said was met with enthusiasm. 

“We did some focus group discussions with students there, co-lead by University of Michigan and University of Cape Coast investigators to try to get an understanding what the issues around sexual relationships/romantic relationships on (Cape Coast’s) campus are,” Rominski said.

In April 2016, Rominski went back to Ghana, and brought the first adaptation of the Relationship Remix curriculum. Initial tests of the new program revealed that further adjustments needed to be made. Rominski and Munro-Kramer are returning to Ghana this month to test the second revision of the curriculum and have scheduled time in March 2017 for a third visit if necessary.

Many differences exist between the two programs such as an activity to challenge rape myths that justify the gender inequality at the base of sexual assault and rape by blaming the victim for putting herself in a vulnerable position.

Should the new version succeed in the University of Cape Coast, Rominski and Munro-Kramer said they have plans to adapt Relationship Remix for other universities abroad.

“We are in preliminary conversations with faculty from the University of Cape Town in South Africa and we’re hoping to do it under the same process there, this cultural and contextual adaptation.” Rominski said. “The point of all this is to make it not only relevant and acceptable to those settings but also sustainable at those sites, and it will really be owned by those institutions.”

LSA senior Elizabeth Nesbitt, who is also a Relationship Remix facilitator, said she thought the lessons taught in the workshop have universal appeal. She added that she has grown to appreciate the program’s message since her own participation in it during her freshman year.

Faith Ozar, a School of Public Health graduate student and Relationship Remix facilitator, agreed with Nesbitt and said she thinks expanding the program beyond the University is positive because she thinks these lessons transcend borders.

“I do understand the general idea of taking the concept of Relationship Remix and the importance of stressing positive relationships and positive sexual understanding to other people because so many people experience some degree of relationship trauma,” Ozar said.