Anyone who still believes that affirmative consent policies don't mislead students or restrict their sexual autonomy should visit Coastal Carolina University—where consent can only be given when all participants are both enthusiastic and sober.
That's right: a simple "yes" is not good enough from the standpoint of CCU administrators. Students who want to hook up must agree to each and every sex act beforehand, they must express consent enthusiastically, and they must be sober.
The university's definition of consent is at odds with the legal one—as well as any common sense understanding of how sex happens. If complete sobriety were required before every sexual encounter, than any person who was even slightly drunk could be branded a rapist. In fact, it's incapacitation that renders consent invalid, not mere intoxication.
This reality—and much else—is lost on CCU.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education recently took notice of some outdated posters advertising CCU's consent policies; the poster proposed the following scenario: prototypical college students "Jake" and "Josie" got drunk before they had sex. "Josie could not consent," insisted the poster. "The next day Jake was charged with rape."
The gender disparity here is obvious: why would Jake be charged with rape, but not Josie? Of course, neither should be charged with rape, since drunk sex is not a crime. Incapacitated sex is a crime.
A spokesperson for CCU explained that the posters have been updated. But the new one isn't much better: It still asserts that consent must be "enthusiastic" and "sober."
FIRE's Colin Crossman wonders whether a simple "sure," is enthusiastic enough to signal consent under CCU's policy:
One might think that simply receiving an affirmative response to a sexual entreaty would be sufficient, but according to CCU, the consent must be "enthusiastic." This makes it virtually impossible for students at CCU to know if the consent they have received is sufficient to satisfy the university. If you heard "okay," or "sure," have you received consent? Or must your advances be so irresistible that you hear nothing short of "Yes! You are so amazing; take me here and now!" Are you willing to stake your academic and professional future on the answer to that question?
I emailed CCU's president to ask if the university really meant to suggest that all drunk sex constitutes rape. If he responds, I will post an update.
In the meantime, I would advise CCU students to be careful about combining alcohol and sex, even though almost everyone else does.