The blurred lines of “consent”

October 15th, 2015



On Tuesday, Oct. 13, John Carroll University’s Student Union hosted an open forum for students to discuss the ongoing issue of sexual assault on college campuses. The conversation took place in the O’Dea Room, where students voiced concerns, questions and comments regarding issues on campus. “Sexual assault is an ever-present issue on college campuses across the country,” said the forum facilitator, Madison Chickos. “I hope that opening a dialogue between students and faculty can bring about positive change in order to keep John Carroll safe.”


The meeting was intended to create a discussion among students and the administration. According to Cole Hassay, Student Union president, the major discussion points included: defining “consent,” efforts to prevent sexual assault, proper responses to cases of sexual assault and how the Student Union can work with administrators to update the University Consent Standard. Minimum repercussions for offenders found responsible and the potential for disclosing evidence on transcripts of offenders were also addressed.


Although the University has set a standard in defining sexual assault, The Carroll News feels that it is not definitive enough.  Consent should not solely incorporate actions such as body language, as this can be seriously misconstrued in the heat of the moment. Verbal understanding from both individuals involved is critical.  For example, a couple in the early stages of a sexual encounter should be required to ask each other’s permission before proceeding.


Currently, John Carroll’s University Consent Standard says, “Consent is freely given using mutually understandable words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity.” Possible action by the Student Union from the forum discussion includes reevaluating this definition.


Hassay said, “We intend to follow up on the forum’s discussion with legislation to create a safe environment on campus.” By conversing with the student body, Student Union has taken the first step in initiating possible change for the concerns presented.