FIRE Prompts Change In School’s Troubling Consent Policy For Disabled

July 17, 2015

Armstrong State University changed course this week after FIRE’s Director of Policy Research, Samantha Harris, called it out for a sexual misconduct policy that said disabled students couldn’t consent to sex.

The policy stated, in part, that “persons who have a physical and/or mental impairment are unable to give consent.”

On Wednesday, Samantha tweeted at the school, which is part of the University System of Georgia:

The tweet prompted a report by the Washington Examiner, and by Thursday, the university had reworded the rule. The policy now states that only disabled people who are also “unable to communicate” cannot consent.

Armstrong State’s Director of Marketing and Communications Allison Hersh told The College Fix the original language was a drafting error. “It was never our intention to imply that physically disabled individuals are unable to provide consent,” she said.

For her part, Samantha says she is relieved that this was simply an instance of “sloppy drafting,” but the national attention the story received is a symptom of a larger issue.

“It is a sad comment on the state of fundamental fairness on campus generally, that so many people could see this and think it plausible that a university would adopt such a definition of consent,” Samantha said.

She also praised the university for fixing the mistake.

“We are pleased that the university is revising it so quickly,” she said, “because as long as the words are there, they are susceptible to abuse.”