Where’s the line between a hook-up and sexual assault? The recent Eagle column, “’Sex’-perimentation defines Welcome Week,” indicated no such boundary exists. The line, however, is clear and we want you to know what sexual assault is and what to do if someone is sexually assaulted. The authors made the boundary between hook-up and assault blurry. It’s actually simple.
The article begins with, “You have it inside you right now. It kind of hurts. You’ve had one too many cups of jungle juice.” The authors go on to describe this situation as a “drunken hook-up.” Sexual assault is a more accurate description of this scenario.
Are you wondering how this “drunken hook-up” became a sexual assault? It’s pretty simple. Sexual assault is “any conduct of a sexual nature . . . without consent” (Student Handbook). How can we be sure this was without consent? “Sexual contact will be considered ‘without consent’ if no clear consent . . . is given . . . or if inflicted upon a person who otherwise reasonably appears to be without the mental or physical capacity to give consent” (Student Handbook).
Put simply, if someone is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, as the article portrayed, they cannot give consent. If both parties can’t give consent, any sexual activity can be defined as sexual assault.
Knowing if you have consent is simple. Here’s your checklist:
1. Is the person under the influence of alcohol or other drugs? If yes, they can’t give consent.
2. Are they being coerced, persuaded, forced or threatened with force? If yes, sexual activity is without consent.
3. Is agreement given freely, soberly and without pressure, violence or threats either verbally or with clear actions? If yes, there IS consent.
Like other crime victims, sexual assault victims are never responsible for crimes perpetrated against them. If someone you know is a victim of sexual violence, use resources listed at http://www.american.edu/sexualassault under “AU Resources.” The Dean of Students Office oversees the Sexual Assault Working Group and welcomes the participation of interested community members.
Despite how complicated the Eagle column made this seem, it’s pretty simple:
1. Always get clear, sober, and freely given consent before sexual activity — otherwise it’s not consent.
2. AU has resources to help victims and survivors.
Without consent, it’s sexual assault. It’s just that simple.
Rob Hradsky, Chair, on behalf of Sexual Assault Working Group