What is Consent?

Consent is an informed and freely and affirmatively communicated willingness to participate in a particular sexual activity. Consent can be expressed either by words or by clear and unambiguous actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable permission regarding the conditions of each instance of sexual activity. It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in the sexual activity to ensure that s/he has the consent of the other to engage in each instance of sexual activity.

What does this mean?

In order for individuals to engage in a sexual act of any kind, there must be clear, knowing, and voluntary consent prior to and during sexual acitivity. Consent can be given by word or action and an individual may remove consent at any time during the sexual act either verbally or non-verbally. Remember that consent for one act cannot be automatically assumed to give consent to any other form of sexual activity.

Silence – without actions demonstrating permission – cannot be assumed to show consent.

What is the difference between seduction and coercion?

Coercion happens when someone is pressured unreasonable into having sex or performing a sexual act. Coercing someone into a sexual activity is a violation of Title IX in the same way that physically forcing someone into sex would be.

Alcohol or other drug use can place the capacity to offer consent into question.  Sober sex is much less likely to raise questions.  if drugs or alcohol are used, individuals may become incapacitated and unable to understand the situation.  During any sexual interaction, each participant should always be able to answer the details of the sexual act by answering questions like who, what, when, where, why, or how. 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.”

Consent is:

Mutual – It is active, not passive, and can be withdrawn at any time. Past consent to sexual activities does not imply ongoing future consent and consent for one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Silence does not necessarily constitute consent. It is the responsibility of the initiator to obtain consent.

Freely Given – Consent is only possible when there is equal power in the relationship. If coercion, intimidation, or threats of physical force are used, there is no consent. There is no consent when there is force, expressed or implied, or use of duress or deception upon the victim. Whether an individual has taken advantage of a position of influence over an alleged victim may be a factor in determining consent.

Informed – If a person is impaired due to alcohol, drugs, being asleep, unconscious, mentally impaired, or below the age of legal consent, there can be no consent. Such person cannot understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual situation; the initiator should know, or reasonably should know, if an individual is incapacitated.

You need consent for every form of sexual activity or you may be responsible for sexual assault, so…


Ask! – “Do you want to have sex?” “How far do you think you’d like to go?” “Are you okay with this?”

Watch! – Look for non-verbal messages, discomfort, lack of eye contact, or not responding.

Listen! – “I want you to…” “I am ready to…” and “I feel the same as you” can be a Yes. Remember that silence is not consent, get the “YES” every time for every act! If someone says, “I’m not ready….” “I don’t know…” or “I’ve had a lot to drink…” STOP.

Remember! – Even if someone says yes, he or she can change their mind at any time. If someone says, “It hurts,” “I don’t want to do this anymore,” or “I want to stop”, STOP.