Consent is clear, knowing, voluntary permission, through words or actions, for another
individual to do something that affects the individual giving consent.
Consent is based on choice and must be informed, freely and actively given, and mutually understandable, indicating a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. If an individual cannot say “no” comfortably, then “yes” has no meaning. If one of the participants is unwilling to accept a “no,” then “yes” has no meaning.
- Consent is possible only when there is equal power in the relationship.
- Consent is active, not passive.
- Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity.
- Consent to any one form of sexual activity does not automatically imply consent to any other form of sexual activity.
- Previous relationships or prior consent does not imply consent to future sexual acts.
- Not "understanding" sexual misconduct does not excuse any unwanted sexual advances.
- Individuals who consent to sexual activity must be able to understand what they are doing and what is being done to them.
- The initiator must obtain consent at every stage of sexual interaction.
- Under this policy, “No” always means “No,” and “Yes” may not always mean “Yes” if coerced. Anything other than clear, knowing and voluntary consent to any sexual activity is equivalent to a “No.”
- Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time, as long as the withdrawal is communicated clearly. Withdrawal of consent can be done in numerous ways and need not be a verbal withdrawal of consent.
- Consent will be determined using both objective and subjective standards. The objective standard is met when a reasonable individual would consider the words or actions of the parties to have manifested an agreement between them to do the same thing, in the same way, at the same time, with one another. The subjective standard is met when a party believes in good faith that the words or actions of the parties manifested an agreement between them to do the same thing, in the same way, at the same time, with one another.
Coercion, Intimidation, Physical Force, & Threats
Consent is not effectively given if it results from the use of physical force, threats, intimidation, or coercion. Being verbally, emotionally, psychologically or physically pressured into any kind of sexual activity is not consent. Engagement in sexual activity because of fear or deceit is not consent.
- Coercion exists when the initiator engages in sexually pressuring or oppressive behavior, such that the application of such pressure or oppression causes an individual of the behavior to engage in unwanted sexual behavior. Coercion may also include the pressure to engage in sexual activity to gain access or inclusion into a group or organization.
- Intimidation occurs when an individual uses physical presence to menace another, although no physical contact occurs, or where an individual’s knowledge of prior violent behavior by an assailant, coupled with menacing behavior, places them in fear, as an implied threat.
- Physical force exists, for example, when an individual acts upon another physically, such as hitting, kicking, restraining or otherwise exerting their physical control over that individual through violence.
- Threats exist where a reasonable individual would have been compelled by words or actions of another to give permission to sexual contact they would not otherwise have given, absent the threat. Threats may suggest acts of harm towards the person involved in the sexual activity, another individual, or a loved one. For example, threats to themselves, another individual, or a loved one constitutes threats.
Alcohol or other drug use
Alcohol or other drug use can place the capacity to consent in question whereas sober activity is less likely to raise such questions.
- When alcohol or other drugs are being used, individuals will be considered unable to give 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.
- Consent is absent when the initiator knows, or reasonably should know, that the other individual is incapacitated due to consumption of alcohol or drugs or otherwise lacks capacity to consent.
Intellectual disability always places consent in question.
Use of alcohol or drugs by an individual who has an Intellectual Disability shall be further evidence that the individual may lack capacity to consent to sexual activity.
Consent may never be given by:
- An individual under the age of 16,
- An individual who is physically incapacitated (e.g., incapacitated due to illness) when the incapacitation is known or reasonably should have been known, or
- An individual who is unconscious or asleep.