Consent, Alcohol, and Incapacitation


What Consent Is and Is Not 

Consent is a clear, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement between the participants, communicated by clearly understandable words or actions, to engage in each form of sexual activity. The lack of informed, freely given consent to sexual contact constitutes sexual misconduct. 

  • NEVER assume that you have consent. Persons who want to engage in the sexual activity are responsible for obtaining consent
  • Consent is NOT silence, passivity, or lack of active resistance. In other words, no one can infer consent from the absence of a "no". Consent requires a clear "yes", verbal or otherwise. 
  • A current or previous dating or sexual relationship does not indicate consent. 
  • Consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. 
  • Consent is ongoing throughout a sexual encounter, and anyone can withdraw consent at any time. 
  • In order to give effective consent, a person must be of legal age. 
  • There is no consent when there is a threat of force or violence, or any other form of coercion or intimidation, whether physical or psychological. 
Although someone can communicate consent in a nonverbal manner, verbal communication is the most reliable form of asking for and gauging consent. Therefore, we encourage individuals to seek and communicate consent in a verbal manner. Having a conversation with your partner may be awkward but serves as the basis for healthy relationships shaped by mutual willingness and respect. 


Alcohol and Drugs

Research shows that alcohol use plays a significant role in most campus sexual assault incidents. Sex under the influence of alcohol is not automatically nonconsensual, but alcohol use affects decision-making, impairs judgment, and may result in increased misperceptions regarding sexual interest and consent. In addition, a person incapacitated cannot give consent. 

INCAPACITATION is a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give effective consent. In other words, they lack the ability to understand the "who, what, where, when, why or how" of their sexual interaction. 

Sexual activity with someone who one should know to be—or based on the circumstances should reasonably have known to be—  mentally or physically incapacitated (by alcohol or other drug use, unconsciousness or blackout), constitutes a violation of the University's Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Assault, and Sexual Harassment Policy. The Respondent's level of alcohol will never function as a defense to a violation of this policy. This policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, or from the taking of rape drugs. Possession, use and/or distribution of any of rape drugs, e.g. Rohypnol, Ketamine, GHB, Burundanga, etc. is prohibited, and administering these drugs to another person is a violation of this policy.