One of the core values that guides the Sexual Assault and Prevention Awareness Center’s work is respect. And for SAPAC, consent is respect. As we work toward a world free of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking and sexual harassment, we promote equality and respect for all members of our community through our commitment to primary prevention. Our primary prevention approach is centered on our vision and hope for a future where, as a community, we expect consent for sexual activity to be verbal, sober and enthusiastic. This vision is our aspiration, and it exceeds the definition of consent in the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy.
In the Relationship Remix first-year workshop, in the online training, Community Matters, and in the presentations delivered by SAPAC volunteers, we teach the institutional definition of consent and we also share our aspirational goal for all consent to be verbal, sober and enthusiastic. We believe this is the very best way to ensure that you are treating another person with respect and that you have their consent to engage in the desired sexual activity.
It is an encouraging sign of a shift in our campus cultural values that many students desire for affirmative, verbal consent to be included in the institution’s consent definition, and even more importantly, be fully integrated into our behaviors and beliefs as the expected, common practice of students when they have sex. As a culture, though, we are not there yet and SAPAC makes this distinction in our educational efforts. In order to address the issue raised by the Daily’s Editorial Board, SAPAC staff have carefully reviewed our website materials and revised the information provided on consent to make this distinction clearer. You can read the updated website language at http://sapac.umich.edu/article/49.
Holly Rider-Milkovich is the director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center.