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Community Policies and Standards

Whether you live on or off-campus, Life on the Bluff-Student Handbook, serves as a resource to you about life in our community and policies related to power-based personal violence, listed in the handbook under interpersonal violence. Interpersonal violence policies include: sexual harassment, relationship violence, stalking, and sexual misconduct. Important information regarding resources, reporting options, and the Student Conduct process for incidents involving interpersonal violence can also be found in the handbook.

What is consent?

Consent means informed, freely, and voluntarily given agreement, communicated by clearly understandable words or actions, to participate in each form of sexual activity. Consent will not be assumed by silence, impairment due to alcohol or drugs, unconsciousness, sleep, physical impairment, or lack of active resistance. A current or previous dating or sexual relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent, and consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity.

Ultimately, consent is positive feedback, not the absence of negative feedback. It is not the absence of “no” – it is the presence of “yes,” achieved through open communication and respect for others’ sexual boundaries.

If you or your partner feels pressured, manipulated or intimidated, then you have not established explicit consent and any following sexual activity is sexual violence.

What are the essential elements of effective consent?

  • Informed — Both parties demonstrate a clear and mutual understanding of what exactly is being consented to.
  • Freely and actively given — There is no coercion, force, threat, intimidation, or pressuring. 
  • Mutually understandable —  Consent is expressed in words or actions that indicate a clear willingness to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way, with each other.

What is NOT effective consent?

  • Silence does not equal consent  — A lack of verbal resistance does not, by itself, constitute consent.
  • Resistance is not required — A lack of physical resistance does not, by itself, constitute consent.
  • Consent is not indefinite — Consent may be withdrawn at any time and at that time all sexual activity must cease unless and until additional effective consent is given.
  • Consent is not implied — Previous sexual relationships, and/or a current sexual relationship may not, in and of themselves, be taken to constitute effective consent. One should not infer effective consent as a function of attire, flirtation, the buying of dinner or the spending of money on a date, etc. Intentional use of alcohol/drugs may not, in and of itself, be taken to imply consent. 
  • Incapacitated persons cannot give consent — One who is mentally or physically incapacitated as a result of alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntarily and involuntarily), or who is unconscious, unaware, or otherwise helpless, is incapable of giving consent. Incapacitation is defined as a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable, decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the "what, when, where, why, and how" of their sexual interaction).