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Addressing Sexual Misconduct The Butler Way

Information About Consent

Consent is defined in the Butler University Sexual Misconduct Policy as voluntary words or actions mutually understood by each party to be agreement or permission to engage in a specific sexual act at a specific time.

The person who initiates sexual activity is responsible for obtaining consent for that activity. Consent can be withdrawn at any time by any party. Once consent is withdrawn, sexual activity must stop immediately.

In order for there to be consent, the following MUST be present:

  • Voluntary words or actions of agreement or permission
    • If force, intimidation/threat, or coercion are present, a person’s agreement or permission may not be voluntary. Please see below for definitions of these terms.
  • Mutual understanding
    • Everyone participating in the act must understand what they are agreeing to or giving permission for.
    • A person who is incapacitated cannot understand what they are giving permission for or agreeing to. For information on incapacitation, please see below.
  • Specificity to an act and to a time
    • Consent to one act is not consent to another act. Consent that was given in the past does not mean that consent is given in the present.

Consent cannot be inferred from any of the following:

  • Silence or passivity
    • Remember, voluntary words or actions of agreement or permission MUST be present. If someone is not saying or doing anything, that does not mean they are giving consent.
  • The absence of resistance
    • The fact that someone does not say no or does not resist does not mean that they are giving consent.
  • The existence of a current or prior relationship
    • The fact that people are or have been in an intimate relationship does not mean that consent is automatically given. Consent must be obtained for every act, every time. 

There is no consent if any of the following are present:

  • Force
    • The use of physical violence that would reasonably overcome an individual’s freedom to choose whether to participate in sexual activity.
  • Intimidation or threat   
    • Express or implied threat of immediate or future physical, emotional, reputational, financial, or other harm to an individual or to others that would reasonably place an individual in fear and that is employed to compel someone to engage in sexual activity.
  • Coercion
    • Unreasonable pressure to engage in sexual activity.
      • Factors that are considered when determining reasonableness include duration, frequency, isolation, and intensity.
  • Incapacitation
    • An individual is incapacitated when they are unable to understand the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the situation due to the use of alcohol and/or other drugs, mental or physical disability, being asleep or unconscious, and/or age (as defined by Indiana state law).
    • There is no consent when:
      • A reasonable person in the same situation would have known of the other party’s incapacitation.
      • The individual who initiated the sexual activity knew of the other party’s incapacitation, OR
    • Note: Being impaired by alcohol or other drugs does not excuse a person from responsibility for engaging in conduct that violates the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
      • A person should be cautious about engaging in sexual activity when any party has been drinking alcohol or using other drugs. The use of alcohol or other drugs may create uncertainty as to whether consent has been asked for or given. If a person has doubt about any party’s ability to give consent, the safe thing to do is not engage in any sexual activity.