A person who wishes to engage in sexual activity must ensure that they have the consent of their partner. Consent means informed, freely, and voluntarily given agreement, communicated by clearly understandable words or actions, to participate in each form of sexual activity. Consent is mutually understandable when a reasonable person would consider the words or actions of the parties to have demonstrated agreement between them to participate in the sexual activity. In the absence of mutually understandable words or actions, neither party should assume that it is permissible to engage in sexual activity.
Consent to some form(s) of sexual activity does not necessarily mean consent to other forms of sexual activity. Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time at which point all sexual activity for which consent has been withdrawn must cease. Acquiescence to sexual activity based on the use of fraud or force (actual or implied), whether that force be physical force, threats, coercion, is never consent.
Force is the use or threat of physical violence or intimidation to overcome an individual’s freedom of will to choose whether or not to participate in sexual contact.
Coercion is verbal and/or physical conduct, including manipulation, intimidation, unwanted contact, and express or implied threats of physical, emotional, or other harm, that would reasonably place an individual in fear of immediate or future harm and that is employed to compel someone to engage in sexual contact.
Consent will not be assumed by silence, incapacitation due to alcohol or drugs, unconsciousness, sleep, physical impairment, or lack of active resistance. Consent may never be given by minors (for example, in Massachusetts, those not yet 16 years of age), mentally disabled persons, those who are unconscious, unaware or otherwise physically helpless, or those who are incapacitated as a result of alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntary or involuntary).
To learn more, visit the OPPOSITION TO SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED MISCONDUCT AND INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE policy.