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Defining Consent

Consent can only be given by a person of legal age, cannot occur when a person is mentally or physically incapacitated (which includes intoxication), and requires that all parties understand the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the sexual interaction.


Consent is:

  • knowing
  • voluntary, and
  • clear permission
  • by word or action
  • to engage in sexual activity

Since individuals may experience the same interaction in different ways, it is the responsibility of each party to determine that the other has consented before engaging in the activity.

For consent to be valid, there must be a clear expression in words or actions that the other individual consented to that specific sexual conduct. Reasonable reciprocation can be implied.

For example, if someone kisses you, you can kiss them back (if you want to) without the need to explicitly obtain their consent to being kissed back.

Consent can also be withdrawn once given, as long as the withdrawal is reasonably and clearly communicated. If consent is withdrawn, that sexual activity should cease within a reasonable time.

Consent to some sexual contact (such as kissing or fondling) cannot be presumed to be consent for other sexual activity (such as intercourse). A current or previous intimate relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent.

Proof of consent or non-consent is not a burden placed on either party involved in an incident. Instead, the burden remains on YC to determine whether its policy has been violated. The existence of consent is based on the totality of the circumstances evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances, including the context in which the alleged incident occurred and any similar, previous patterns that may be evidenced.

Obtaining and giving consent is the most important part of protecting yourself against sexual violence. The following list are some examples of how to gain consent from and give consent to your intimate partners:

  1. Clarifying or summarizing what the other person shared
  2. Communicating your expectations and limits
  3. Asking for permission, approval, or acceptance when seeking intimacy
  4. Understanding why someone did or chose something
  5. Expressing discomfort with acts of physical intimacy
  6. Talking about sexual intimacy when sober
  7. Confirming the feelings of the other person
  8. Starting with small decisions
  9. Sharing when you want to stop, slow down, or wait

The Impact of Alcohol and Drugs on Consent

The use of alcohol or drugs never makes a victim at fault for an act of sexual harassment, discrimination, or violence.

Students should be aware that alcohol and other drugs influence behavior and alter an individual's ability to give consent to sexual acts.