Antioch College: Where It All Began

May 12, 2006

Gettysburg College may be the latest school to criminalize unsolicited hugging, but it wasn’t the first. That distinction belongs to Antioch College, which made national headlines in the early 1990s when it first introduced its Sexual Offense Prevention Policy. Both policies have the exact same definition of consent: “Consent is defined as the act of willingly and verbally agreeing to engage in specific sexual conduct.”

Antioch, however, apparently feels that a simple definition is not enough; rather, its students need explicit examples of how the policy might apply in everyday situations:

  • “[G]rinding on the dance floor is not consent for further sexual activity.”
  • “[M]oans are not consent.”
  • “A person cannot give consent while sleeping.” (Really, consciousness is an element of consent? Well I’ll be.)

And just in case you were wondering, “[t]hese 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.” You have to love the specificity here—“Tools”? “The number of persons involved”?  I guess the folks at Antioch wanted to make crystal clear that the chainsaw-wielding orgy is totally okay—just as long as everyone gives specific verbal consent.

Jokes aside, the real point here is that this policy, like Gettysburg’s, infantilizes students by treating them as incapable of making even the most basic judgments about sexual interactions. And by its sheer silliness, it dangerously makes light of a truly serious subject matter. When your sexual offense policy is the butt of late-night television jokes, how seriously will people take claims of “sexual offense” on your campus? Policies like this jeopardize the claims of students who have actually been the victim of a sexual offense, as well as the futures of other students for engaging in innocent behaviors. It is a lose-lose situation for students at these institutions, and it needs to change.