Valentine’s Day is here and it’s important to remember the importance of consent, as well as how it is applicable to all types of relationships. The university’s definition of consent is “free and willing agreement to engage in a sexual act, provided without force or coercion, between individuals who are of sufficient age and are not mentally incapable, mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.” This definition can be confusing, so SAPAC has useful guidance on this topic.
Consent is not only applicable to romantic relationships, but friends, family, coworkers, and all types of relationships in between. Whether it is working with a classmate, hanging out with friends, or just grabbing coffee by yourself, understanding what it means to give and ask for consent in any context is important. Consent can play a role in making plans and deciding what to do, if a conversation is making someone uncomfortable, or if someone is feeling coerced into a situation. Understanding your own boundaries and what you are comfortable with can help in sometimes confusing situations. If there is ever any doubt about whether someone is giving consent:
- Stop what you are doing.
- Affirm that they should only do what they are comfortable with.
- Ask what they want to do and do not pressure them.
Remember that consent under coercion is not consent. If you have any questions about consent or student resources look to the links below!
- Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center
- Ann Arbor Police Department
- U-M Police Department
- Student Legal Services - free to any University of Michigan student
- Dean of Students Office - walk in hours and on call staff can help
Contributed by Courtney Maliszewski