We need affirmative consent now
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tldr; Some of the Regents (President Kaler's bosses) want to delay implementation of the affirmative consent policy - or "yes means yes" - until after Welcome Week, meaning all our new students would be educated about the current consent policy only to have it change midyear. Currently, it is set to be implemented after July 16th. Sign this to tell them we need affirmative consent now. It can't wait until after September.
In June of 2015, the University of Minnesota proposed changes to the Sexual Assault, Stalking, and Relationship Violence administrative policy after over 6 months of feedback from staff, administration, and students. The changes included a changed definition of consent being "mutually understood" to "affirmative consent" and added a detailed description of when consent can not be given. The policy creates the expectation of affirmative consent - or "yes means yes" - where we ask our partners if they'd like to engage in some form of sex and wait for them to say "yes" before proceeding.
This policy language was requested to be reviewed, reviewed, and approved by the elected student government organization, and the new student government administration was elected by a 12% margin with a platform to change this policy in a student election with the largest turnout in a decade. The student body consensus was that this policy has broad support and it's the community standard we'd like to hold ourselves to.
Today (go to 2:36:50), Regent Hsu of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents asked to postpone the policy**, saying "I believe we need to take a closer look at that until it gets implemented." This would require the policy to be postponed until after the September board meeting, after all of our new students have come to campus and participated in Welcome Week. By delaying the policy, we will forgo a clean implementation at the beginning of the academic year and risk attempting to educate people about two different policies and miss out on the optimal time frame to educate new and returning students.
By turning this common practice into policy, we are establishing that this should be the rule and not the exception. We are providing a clarification to a previously ambiguous policy that did not clearly define what consent was – and more importantly, what it wasn't. By making this a policy, we are creating an avenue for more robust education and a dialogue about how we create a safe campus for everyone. And most importantly, by making this a policy we are challenging the dominant narrative that sex is something that belongs to one person and is taken by another. (We live in a society where sex is discussed as "taking/losing one's virginity" and "popping their cherry," which are perfect examples of the shift we need to see. Sex isn't something that you lose, take, or pop. Those are one way actions. They are things someone does to someone else and not things people do with each other. This is why we need this policy.)
Waiting until September means we miss a prime window of opportunity to educate all of our new students at Welcome Week. It means that Greek organizations will not be able to plan their risk management curriculum in advance and will scramble to provide education to members about two different policies. Most importantly, this means three more months without the stronger protection for victim-survivors during the first months of school, months where the likelihood of being a victim of sexual assault is drastically higher than other times during the year.
The National Center for Higher Education Risk Management has been recommending this policy for over 10 years. The University of St. Thomas has had this policy for over 10 years. The University of Iowa adopted it last year. The Ohio State Undergraduate Student Government recommended this policy for their campus. And there are countless others who already have this policy or have had this policy. This is not controversial, revolutionary, or anything other than common sense student safety. We need this policy to be implemented on schedule and not be delayed until after September.
Please sign to show your support for affirmative consent now.
University of Minnesota Student Body President
For more information on what this policy means, read this article.
Media inquiries: email@example.com
**This policy is not required to be passed by the Board of Regents, as it is an administrative policy.
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