All About Consent
We often think about consent in the context of intimacy, and on college campuses you may learn about consent in the context of campus harassment and gender-based violence policies. Consent is much broader and is essential in many types of relationships that you may have in college.
Consider this—you need consent to:
- borrow a friend’s shirt
- play music out loud in your room
- hug a friend
- enter a floormate’s room
- sit on someone’s bed to hang out
- be absent or late for a class
- switch schedules with a co-worker
- be late for practice because of a group project
- stay out until a certain time when you are home on break
- and more…
You should consult with your campus student handbook or code of conduct for your school’s specific definition of consent. In general, though, consent is a clear, active and affirmative permission to act that focuses on boundaries and feelings.
- It is never something that can be assumed or implied. The absence of a “no” does not mean “yes”.
- Consent to something once does not mean blanket consent in the future. So even if borrowing a friend’s shirt is ok one week, you can’t go back into their closet next week to borrow it again without their consent.
- Consent is freely given. If coercion and/or manipulation are present, consent is not. This means if you feel pressured, or someone attaches a consequence to your response, consent is not present.
- Consent is reversible. You can change your mind at any time.
Verbal and Non-Verbal Cues
Consent should be enthusiastic, and understanding both verbal and non-verbal cues can help you navigate consent. Examples of verbal cues include spoken words, volume used to speak, and tone of voice. Examples of non-verbal cues include things like posture, body language, eye contact, social distance, and head or hand gestures, among others.
Take a look at the table below for examples of verbal and non-verbal cues to be mindful of in assessing consent. As a rule of thumb, don’t assume and ask for clarification or confirmation.
|Verbal Cues||Non-Verbal Cues|
|Consent may be present when||
You hear an enthusiastic “yes” or something like:
You see someone:
|Consent may not be present when||
You don’t receive a response or you hear something like:
You see someone
Learn more about consent as it relates to sexual and relationship violence.