“She said yes at first” or “She didn’t say anything” are no longer acceptable forms of consent, according to the University of Maryland’s new sexual misconduct policy. This new policy has quite a few changes pertaining not only to consent, but also to what qualifies as sexual assault.
The university is looking to erase all blurred lines when it comes to the consent for sex. The Sexual Misconduct Policy makes it clear what is and is not consent.
“’Consent’ means a knowing, voluntary and affirmatively communicated willingness to participate in a particular sexual activity or behavior. Lack of protest or resistance is not consent.”
I’d say that’s crystal clear.
Before this new policy, sexual assault was divided into two categories: Sexual Assault I and Sexual Assault II. Sexual Assault I is defined as non-consensual sexual intercourse and Sexual Assault II is defined as “non-consensual sexual contact, which would be ‘any intentional touching of the intimate parts of another person, causing another to touch one’s intimate parts, or disrobing or exposure of another without consent,'” according to the Washington Post.
But now with changes that came directly from UMD’s President Wallace D. Loh, what was defined as Sexual Assault II is no longer considered assault.
Loh told the Washington Post, “I said, ‘Wait a second, if somebody touches somebody else, nonconsensually, that constitutes an assault?’ You are demeaning the word assault. You’re trivializing it.”
So being groped isn’t as serious as actual penetration. At least that’s what President Loh appears to be implying. Unwanted sexual intercourse and undesired sexual contact can be equally traumatizing for some individuals. Should that not still be considered assault? There is definitely room for discussion there.