Consent is the agreement to participate in any sexual activity and is required for all sexual activity both in and outside of relationships. Non-consensual sex is against the law. If you choose to be sexually active please ensure all relationships are consensual and understand that every person has the right to say no at any time. Also be aware that many people chose not to engage in sexual activity and you must respect their choice.
It is essential that you get consent before every time you engage in sexual activity. If someone has consented before it does not automatically mean they want to have sex with you again, regardless of whether you are in a relationship with that person. If people are in situations where they are unable to give their consent, for example if they are sleeping, unconscious or intoxicated any sexual activity with that person could be deemed as sexual assault as the other person is unable to give their consent.
The acronym FRIES can be used to help remember the core aspects of what consent should be:
F - Freely Given; consent should be a choice made without pressure or coercion, not under the influence of drugs or alcohol
R – Reversible; consent should be able to be withdrawn at any time, without fear of any negative consequences
I – Informed; you can only consent to something if you know all the information about what to expect up front. All parties should understand each others’ boundaries and expectations.
E – Enthusiastic; again, consent shouldn’t be given under manipulation- only consent to what YOU want to do
S – Specific; saying yes to one thing doesn’t mean you have to say yes to others
You may have heard the phrase “No means no” used when discussing consent- while this is useful, it is also simplified. Not explicitly saying no to sex does not mean that you are by default saying yes. No means no fails to account for situations where someone cannot say no, be that due to inebriation, for medical reasons, or when someone feels pressured into going along with something because they are scared of the consequences of disagreeing.
No also doesn’t mean “convince me”! If you say no to something, and someone continues to pressure you, or tries to persuade you to cross that boundary, that is wrong. Your boundaries are yours, and they are non-negotiable.
Check out the resources below for some more information, and some interesting more detailed discussions of the issues surrounding consent.
The SU and University take a strong stand against any sexual misconduct. We have worked together to established a reporting platform called RHBeHeard. If you have experienced or witnessed anything you are uncomfortable or concerned with please submit either a named or anonymous report.
If you’ve been affected by sexual assault, there is support available for you.
Regardless of whether or not you’ve reported the issue to the police, issues of sexual misconduct can be investigated by Student Advisory & Wellbeing. They have a number of resources about what to do in an emergency, and how to get help on their website- click the button below to take a look.
If you have a reason for wanting to speak to someone independent from the university, then our advisors are happy to guide and support you. However, depending on your needs, they may refer/signpost you to an external specialist service to get further help.
If you have been the victim of rape or serious sexual assault you can:
You will not be charged for using these services.
We have also published an article about healthy relationships, which includes resources and advice about where to get help if you’re worried that you may be in an unhealthy relationship. You can read that here.
The College has launched an online incident reporting platform called RH BeHeard. The platform is designed for victims of sexual harassment/assault, discrimination or hate crimes, and provides an avenue for accessible and anonymous reporting.
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