What is Consent?

For consent to be present, it must be knowing and voluntary, with clear permission, by word or action, to engage in sexual activity.

  • Individuals may experience the same interaction in different ways. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each person to determine that the other has consented before engaging in the activity.
  • If clear consent is not provided before engaging in the activity, consent may be ratified by word or action at some point during the interaction, but clear communication from the outset is strongly encouraged.
  • 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  • Consent can also be withdrawn once given, as long as the withdrawal is reasonably and clearly communicated. If consent is withdrawn, that sexual activity must cease.
  • 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 Appalachian 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.
  • Consent in relationships must also be considered in context. When parties consent to BDSM (a combined acronym referring to bondage/discipline, domination/submission, sadism/masochism), or other forms of kink, non-consent may be shown by the use of a safe word. Resistance, force, violence, or even saying “no” may be part of the kink and thus consensual, so Appalachian’s evaluation of communication in kink situations shall be guided by reasonableness, rather than strict adherence to a policy that assumes non-kink relationships as a default.

Consent is NOT possible when a person:

  • Doesn’t understand what they’re agreeing to
  • Is physically forced
  • Is coerced to give it through a physical, emotional, or financial threat

This video illustrates various ways you may or may not obtain consent.

Consent must be clear by both parties either by words or actions.  This video provides examples of obtaining clear consent.