What is Consent? What is Not Consent?

CU-Boulder Definition of Consent

  • In order for individuals to engage in sexual activity of any type with each other, there must be clear, knowing and voluntary consent prior to and during sexual activity. Consent is sexual permission. Consent can be given by word or action, but non-verbal consent is not as clear as talking about what you want sexually and what you don’t.
  • Consent must be active; silence by itself cannot be interpreted as consent.
  • Consent is not effectively given if it results from the use of force, including threats, intimidation or coercion.

Guidance Regarding Consent

  • When alcohol or other drugs are being used, a person will be considered unable to give valid consent if they cannot fully understand the details of a sexual interaction (who, what, when, where, why, or how) because they lack the capacity to reasonably understand the situation. Individuals who consent to sex must be able to understand what they are doing. Anything but a clear, knowing and voluntary consent to any sexual activity is equivalent to a “no.”
  • Giving incapacitating alcohol or drugs such as Rohypnol, Ketomine, GHB, and Burundanga or any other similar substance to another person is a violation of the Student Conduct Code.
  • A person who does not want to consent to sex is not required to resist.
  • Consent to some forms of sexual activity does not automatically imply consent to other forms of sexual activity.
  • Silence, previous sexual relationships, or the existence of a current relationship do not imply consent. Consent cannot be implied by attire or inferred from the giving or acceptance of gifts, money or other items.
  • Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time, as long as the withdrawal is communicated clearly. Withdrawal of consent can be done in numerous ways and need not be a verbal withdrawal of consent.
  • A respondent’s intentional use of alcohol/drugs will not function as a defense to a possible violation of this policy.

After experiencing unwanted sexual contact it is common that one may  have questions about the experience, what to call it, and questions about consent. If you have had an unwanted sexual encounter, the Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) is a free and confidential resource to talk with you. OVA will not label your experience for you but will assist in exploring your questions, thoughts, and feelings with you as well as discussing your rights and options.   

Want to learn more about consent?

Call Community Health at 303-492-2937 or e-mail us at Healthbuffs@colorado.edu

or contact the Gender Violence Prevention and Education Coordinator at 303-492-5951.

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