Consent and Coercion Discussed

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Explicit approval and permission to engage in sexual activity demonstrated by clear actions, words, or writings.  Informed consent is freely and voluntarily given, it is mutually understood by all parties involved.  If coercion, intimidation, threats, and/or physical force are used, there is no consent.  If a person is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired so that the person could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual situation, there is no consent; this includes conditions due to alcohol or drug consumption, or being asleep or unconscious, or under the age of legal consent, or unable to give consent under current law.  Silence does not constitute consent, and past consent to sexual activities does not imply ongoing future consent.  Consent to some form of sexual activity cannot be automatically taken as consent to any other form of sexual activity.  Consent can be withdrawn at any time and requires an outward demonstration through understandable words or actions.  Consent is active, not passive.  Silence, moving away, crying, being asleep, passed out, confined, emotionally manipulated, coerced or intimidated is by this definition not consent.



The expectations of our campus community regarding sexual misconduct can be summarized as follows:  In order for individuals to engage in sexual activity of any type with each other, there must be clear, knowing, and voluntary consent prior to and during sexual activity.  Consent is sexual permission.  Consent can be given by word or action, but non-verbal consent is not as clear as talking about what you want sexually and what you do not.  Consent to some form of sexual activity cannot be automatically taken as consent to any other form of sexual activity.  Previous consent does not imply consent to sexual activity in the future.  Silence or passivity -- without actions demonstrating permission -- cannot be assumed to show consent.  Consent, once given, can be withdrawn at any time.  There must be a clear indication that consent is being withdrawn; withdrawal of consent requires an outward demonstration, through understandable words or actions, that clearly conveys that a party is no longer willing to engage in sexual activity.  Once consent is withdrawn, the sexual contact must cease immediately.

Additionally, there is a difference between seduction and coercion/exploitation.  Coercing someone into sexual activity violates this policy in the same way as physically forcing someone into sex.  Coercion and exploitation happens, for example, when someone is pressured unreasonably for sex or when someone is given drugs or alcohol in order to facilitate a sexual assault (as discussed below).  Because alcohol or drug use can place the capacity to consent in question, sober sex is less likely to raise such questions.  When alcohol or other drugs are being used, a person will be considered unable to give valid consent if they cannot fully understand the details of a sexual interaction (who, what, when, where, why, or how) because they lack the capacity to reasonably understand the situation.  Individuals who consent to sex must be able to understand what they are doing.  Under this policy, “No” always means “No,” and “Yes” may not always mean “Yes.”  Anything but a clear, knowing and voluntary consent to any sexual activity is equivalent to a “No.”