One of the sexual assault cases on the Tempe campus in September of this year involved a victim who says they revoked consent and the suspect allegedly assaulted her and possibly made her lose consciousness. The encounter was the result of meeting on a dating app.
It’s important for students to understand a date doesn’t equate to physical affection, because all students deserve respect when it comes to physical boundaries. Until all students realize this, people will continue to be unfairly placed in situations where they feel uncomfortable or are possibly harassed.
Sexual harassment can happen in any environment, including college campuses. According to the CDC's National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey from 2010, nearly one in five women in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault at some point in their lives.
Students shouldn’t have to fear being sexually assaulted during their time in college. A way to combat these statistics is by teaching students that dates don’t guarantee any form of affection and consent needs to be required before physical affection is acceptable.
Consent is imperative in any situation regardless of how many previous dates a couple may have had. The only time you should be physically affectionate on a date is when you have the consent of whoever is involved.
I personally have struggled with several situations where I hadn’t given my consent to any form of physical affection. In fact, I had vehemently stated that I didn’t want any kissing or hand-holding. But I was blatantly ignored.
One time, after scolding my date for not respecting my boundaries, he said, “Well we’re on a date, aren’t we? Don’t I get some perks?”
ASU has put programs in place to help combat these numbers and ensure women feel safer.
ASU Police Department Lieutenant Joseph Morel, an instructor for R.A.D., the Rape Aggression Defense program at ASU, said that it’s important for ASU students to feel safe on dates and that students should not feel obligated to give affection on a date.
It’s important to recognize on a date what consent entails. Just because someone is silent when you are making advances does not mean that they are giving consent.
In my situations, both in high school and in college, I had a hard time speaking out because I was afraid I could get hurt by those I felt were sexually harassing me.
According to the ABOR student code of conduct:
"Consent in the context of sexual activity means informed and freely given words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity." ABOR also adds, "Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity or lack of resistance, acceptance or provision of gifts, meals, drinks, or other items, or previous consent to sexual activity."
Just because you may provide your date a meal or pay for an activity does not mean that your date is now obligated to provide sex, kisses or whatever it may be as "payment" for the date.
It doesn’t even matter if you’ve taken this person on dates in the past because if they haven’t given consent — it can still be considered sexual assault.
According to the ASU Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, ASU had 29 reported sexual assault cases across all campuses in 2018. This is a serious issue because the University campus should be a place where students feel safe to learn and progress. They should not have to worry about being sexually assaulted in any way.
“Set your boundaries early,” Morel said. “If they’re not going to respect you, why should you care about their feelings? If they disrespect you throughout the night, leave.”
It’s important for students to understand they have a right to stand up to their dates, but it’s just as important for students to learn to respect physical boundaries.
It shouldn’t have to be someone’s responsibility to ward off an aggressive date. In the end, it’s up to every student to understand a date doesn’t guarantee physical affection. If a student cannot respect their partner's boundaries they should not be dating in the first place.
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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