What is Consent?

The University’s definition of sexual misconduct mandates that each participant obtains and gives effective consent in each instance and before each sexual act. The University has defined consent as follows:

Consent” is informed, freely and actively given, and mutually understandable words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.  Consent is mutually understandable when a reasonable person would consider the words or actions of the parties to have manifested a mutually understandable agreement between them to engage in certain conduct with each other.  Consent cannot be gained by ignoring or acting in spite of the objections of another.  Consent can be withdrawn at any time and for any reason.

Consent cannot be inferred from: 

  • Silence, passivity, acceptance, or lack of resistance alone;
  • A current or previous dating or sexual relationship (or the existence of such a relationship with anyone else);
  • Attire;
  • The buying of dinner or the spending of money on a date;
  • Consent given to another person (i.e., consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another person); or
  • Consent previously given (i.e., consenting to one sexual act does not imply consent to another sexual act).

Consent is not effective if it is obtained through the use of physical force, violence, duress, intimidation, coercion or the threat, expressed or implied, of bodily injury.  Whether a party used such methods to obtain consent will be determined by reference to the perception of a reasonable person found in the same or similar circumstances.

  • Minors, even if the other participant did not know the minor’s age;
  • Mentally disabled persons, if their disability was reasonable knowable to a sexual partner who is not mentally disabled; or
  • Persons who are incapacitated (whether as a result of drugs, alcohol or otherwise), unconscious, asleep or otherwise physically helpless or mentally or physically unable to make informed, rational judgments.  The use of alcohol or drugs does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain Consent and does not excuse conduct that constitutes Sexual Misconduct.

If at any time during a sexual act any confusion or ambiguity is or should reasonably be apparent on the issue of consent, it is incumbent upon each individual involved in the activity to stop and clarify the other’s willingness to continue and capacity to consent.  Neither party should make assumptions about the other’s willingness to continue.

Consent is not complicated! Check out the short video “Tea Consent” on YouTube by Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess, Rachel Brian, and Graham Wheeler.