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Arizona Board of Regents redefines what consent is

Rebecca Noble / The Daily Wildca
Rebecca Noble / The Daily Wildcat Linguistics freshman Brenda Stoiber-Boudin (left), 4th year PhD candidate Matt Matera (right) protest against rape culture and a recent column published by the Daily Wildcat on the UA mall on Thursday, Sept. 11.

The Arizona Board of Regents recently changed its definition of consent in the Student Code of Conduct, stating that silence is no longer an inference for consent.

The new policy has been sweeping the nation as many universities are choosing to change their consent policies to what is popularly known as “Yes means Yes.” However, this title may be misleading in regard to the Arizona public universities.

According to the Code of Conduct, the definition of consent when related to a sexual situation is: “informed and freely given words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity.” The definition then goes into circumstances or actions that do not allow for sexual consent.

“It would not be accurate to say that only a verbal ‘yes’ is considered consent,” said Sarah Harper, director of public affairs with the board of regents. Harper said the board wanted to provide clarity regarding consent as a part of the Code of Conduct.

The position on the policy was intended for students to gain a better understanding of what sexual consent means and how to properly consent. Harper said she believes it will inform students about consent.

“The board regularly reviews all of its policies and believes the Student Code of Conduct would be enhanced by adding a definition of consent … which was not included in the pervious version,” Harper said.

The new definition also states that someone who is “incapacitated” may never give consent. No matter the circumstances, anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot consent to sex, and, according to the policy, “use of drugs and alcohol does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent.”

According to National Public Radio, 28 Harvard Law professors rejected a similar policy change at the university, calling it “overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.”

At the UA, some students feel differently about consent laws. Marika Graham, a history freshman, agreed with the new board of regents policy.

“I feel like this [policy] is better because there are too many people that get taken advantage of,” Graham said.

Graham also said she thinks this policy clarifies the meaning of consent.

“This will prevent things from going too far and show people that they do not have to [get taken advantage of],” she said.

There are different resources and organizations at the UA that deal with issues surrounding sexual assault, such as Feminists Organized to Resist, Create and Empower, the Women’s Resource Center and the Men’s Project.

FORCE intern Kassandra Manriquez explained her position as a member of a group that advocates for students who need support.“I appreciate that the [board of regents] is directing their attention toward this issue, because it is an important one,” Manriquez said.Manriquez also called upon students to support each other.

“I believe that in order for this refined policy to be influential,” Manriquez said, “we as students need to respect and value each other first.”


Follow Benny Sisson on Twitter.

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