Antioch’s Infamous Sexual Assault Policy

By June 15, 2007

As Emily mentioned yesterday, Antioch University, in my home state of Ohio, is closing the doors of its main undergraduate campus (called Antioch College). Even living in Ohio, few people knew much about Antioch with the exception of a short time in the 1990s when the college became nationally known for its bizarre sexual offense prevention policy. Adopted in 1991 at the prompting of the “Womyn of Antioch,” the consent requirements for this policy made news because they are virtually impossible to fulfill—but to fail to do so was a sexual offense. Here’s the consent section of the policy that became about the only thing most Americans would ever hear about Antioch College:

Consent:
 
Consent is defined as the act of willingly and verbally agreeing to engage in specific sexual conduct. The following are clarifying points:

  • Consent is required each and every time there is sexual activity.
  • All parties must have a clear and accurate understanding of the sexual activity.
  • The person(s) who initiate(s) the sexual activity is responsible for asking for consent.
  • The person(s) who are asked are responsible for verbally responding.
  • Each new level of sexual activity requires consent.
  • Use of agreed upon forms of communication such as gestures or safe words is acceptable, but must be discussed and verbally agreed to by all parties before sexual activity occurs.
  • Consent is required regardless of the parties’ relationship, prior sexual history, or current activity (e.g. grinding on the dance floor is not consent for further sexual activity).
  • At any and all times when consent is withdrawn or not verbally agreed to, the sexual activity must stop immediately.
  • Silence is not consent.
  • Body movements and non-verbal responses such as moans are not consent.
  • A person can not give consent while sleeping.
  • All parties must have unimpaired judgement (examples that may cause impairment include but are not limited to alcohol, drugs, mental health conditions, physical health conditions).
  • All parties must use safer sex practices.
  • All parties must disclose personal risk factors and any known STIs. Individuals are responsible for maintaining awareness of their sexual health.

These requirements for consent do not restrict with whom the sexual activity may occur, the type of sexual activity that occurs, the props/toys/tools that are used, the number of persons involved, the gender(s) or gender expressions of persons involved.

Thankfully, with the closing of Antioch’s doors, no more students will be held hostage to this ridiculous code. However, the spirit of Antioch lives on at Gettysburg College, where “continuing and active” verbal consent is required for all “sexual” activity, which at Gettysburg ranges from “patting” and “hugging” to, presumably, whatever use can be made by college students of the aforementioned “props/toys/tools.”
 
There are undoubtedly myriad reasons why Antioch is closing its doors. But enrollment, which was down to 300, certainly couldn’t have been helped by the fact that it had a policy so absurd that it gained a reputation for treating all of its students as potential sexual predators. Is this the road down which Gettysburg College, as another small liberal-arts school with an unreasonable and infamous sexual assault policy, is destined to travel? Only time will tell, but really, haven’t policies like these claimed enough victims?

Schools: Gettysburg College