Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What is Consent?

When I was first introduced to the topic, sexual misconduct and consent, I wasn’t sure how to respond without being too opinionated. So, I decided to do a little research before blogging to see what society defines consent as. While researching I came across a site This site discussed the issue of consent on college campuses and identified the idea that most campus codes of conduct explain what consent is not, but not what consent is. Intrigued by this fact, I decided to find the definition of consent.

According to, consent is defined as - to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield (often followed by to or an infinitive): He consented to the proposal. We asked her permission, and she consented.

A person must give permission and or agree, before consent is formally given. Armed with this knowledge I decided to delve deeper into NIU’s definition of consent in the student code of conduct. According to NIU’s code of conduct, chapter three article 1.3a and b, Sexual Misconduct includes sexual harassment and assault.

NIU’s code of conduct states the following:
Sexual Harassment: Behavior that may include but is not limited to unwanted fondling or touching of a sexual nature, directly or through clothing; indecent exposure; or lewd behavior; any of which demeans, intimidates, coerces, threatens, or has the effect of creating a hostile or offensive environment. Such behavior may include the use of mail, telephone, or electronic communication to convey messages that are obscene or intimidating to the recipient.

Sexual Assault: Any actual or threatened sexual contact against that person’s will or where the victim is incapable of giving consent.

So once again I was given the answer to what consent is not, but not what it is. Given this information how can one truly understand the issue of sexual assault and consent, when it is not clearly stated in the campus code of conduct?

It’s about time “consent” is defined clearly and plainly so that it is accurately understood. Here’s my advice to all out there, if you have to question it then you shouldn’t be doing it.
Written by guest blogger, Jalen

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