SUNY Adopts Yes-Means-Yes Standard for Sexual Consent

The trustees of the State University of New York last Thursday passed a resolution directing all 64 of the system’s campuses to implement an “affirmative consent” standard for use in campus disciplinary proceedings involving sexual assault.

The standard adopted by the trustees declares that consent to sexual contact must be “active, not passive.” Such consent must be “clear, knowing, and voluntary,” independent of prior sexual contact and to consent to other forms of sexual activity.

What does this mean? It means that you won’t be able to claim consent to sexual contact in SUNY unless your partner has indicated that consent in a clear, uncoerced, active way.

What it doesn’t mean, despite the claims of sky-is-falling types, is that such consent must be verbal. There’s no requirement that sexual partners ask permission before engaging in particular acts, and in fact the standard explicitly states that non-verbal communication is appropriate:

“Consent can be given by…

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