University of Minnesota launches new sexual consent policy

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — As students return to the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus for the start of classes next week, school officials are preparing to educate them about the university's new "affirmative sexual consent" policy.

The policy was adopted last month after student government leaders started pushing for the change last year. They argued that the former policy's description of "mutually understood" consent was too vague.

The new policy is based on the idea that truly consensual relations require active signals from the participants, rather than simply the absence of objections. It also makes clear that people who are incapacitated by drugs or alcohol are incapable of giving consent, Minnesota Public Radio News ( ) reported.

School officials are taking the opportunity to brief students on the new policy as they move into the dorms, apartments and houses on or near campus.

Trish Palermo, community adviser and committee director of Campus Affairs and Student life, discussed the new policy Wednesday with freshmen living in Territorial Hall.

"I explained that it redefines consent to 'yes means yes,'" Palermo said. "I said this is putting the pressure on both individuals to make sure that the other person wants to engage in whatever sexual activity is about to happen."

Student groups plan to meet with Greek organizations and athletic teams on the policy, and messages will be sent to the entire student body via email and social media.

Gavin Grivna, who works for the university's Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education, said the center is sending out surveys about affirmative consent and is posting quizzes on Facebook and Twitter, offering prizes to students who select the correct answers.

"When they come into the office they tell us the answer," he said. "So they say that's true, or that's false, and then 'OK great, would you like a pair of our 'Got Consent?' underwear?'"

Similar affirmative consent policies have been adopted by other schools nationwide, including private Minnesota colleges such as Carleton and Macalester.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News,

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