12.3.4. Consent

Consent is a clear, informed, unambiguous, mutual and voluntary agreement that must be given by participants in order to engage in sexual activity. Consent must be actively, not passively, given throughout the activity and may be revoked at any time. Neither a prior relationship nor silence is a sufficient indication of consent. A person who is asleep, drugged, intoxicated, under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or unconscious may not give consent. A minor or a person whose capacity or ability to provide informed consent is impaired may not give consent. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent. If a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs—even if they were consumed prior to the sexual encounter and the other person has no knowledge of the consumption—may not be able to give consent as it is defined by Georgia law. Likewise, an individual accused of sexual assault or misconduct does not avoid responsibility because he/she was under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

In determining a violation of policy and determining whether consent was given, the following will also be considered:

  • Force” is the use or threat of physical violence to overcome an individual’s freedom of will to choose whether or not to participate in sexual activity or provide consent. Consent obtained by force is not valid.
  • Intimidation” is the use of implied threats to overcome an individual’s freedom of will to choose whether or not to participate in sexual activity or provide consent. Consent obtained by intimidation is not valid.
  • Coercion” is the improper use of pressure to compel another individual to initiate or continue sexual activity against that individual’s will. Consent obtained through coercion is not valid.  Coercion can include a wide range of behaviors, including intimidation, manipulation, threats, and blackmail. A person’s words or conduct are sufficient to constitute coercion if they wrongfully impair another individual’s freedom of will and ability to choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity. Examples of coercion include, but are not limited to, threatening to “out” someone based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression and threatening to harm oneself if the other party does not engage in the sexual activity. When someone indicates, verbally or physically, that they do not want to engage in a particular sexual activity, that they want to stop a particular activity, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued activity or pressure to continue beyond that point can be coercive. The University will evaluate the following in determining whether coercion was used: (a) the frequency of the application of pressure, (b) the intensity of the pressure, (c) the degree of isolation of the person being pressured, and (d) the duration of the pressure.