What Is consent?

What is consent?

The Women's Center works continuously to promote the importance of consent in all campus communication, particularly with regards to sexual behavior. Consent is defined as a clear agreement, expressed in mutually understandable words and/or actions, to engage in a particular activity. Both partners are involved in any decision regarding sexual activity.


Consent is:

  • Voluntary: It is not consent if there is emotional or psychological pressure, intimidation, or fear.
  • A continuous process: Prior consent does not indicate ongoing consent. Make sure all new activity is agreed upon by both partners.
  • Sober: A person who is intoxicated cannot legally give consent.
  • Enthusiastic: Someone giving consent will be informed and usually excited.


Consent is NOT:

  • Ambiguous: If someone does not clearly and positively agree to engage in an activity, it should be assumed that consent has not been given.
  • Silence: Do not assume that someone's lack of verbal assent means s/he is willing to engage in a particular activity. In other words, not saying “no” does not mean “yes.” Only “yes” means “yes.”
  • Ongoing: Consent to engage in one activity, or past consent to engage in activity, does not constitute consent to ongoing activity.
  • Body language: Flirting, style, and “looks” do not ever mean on their own that someone is willing to participate in sexual activity.
  • Under the influence: Incapacitation, including incapacitation due to alcohol or drug use and/or sleep, legally means that an individual cannot consent to sexual activity.

Honest communication and mutual respect make sex and relationships better. Consent is empowering for all individuals and shows respect for yourself and your partner.