A question of consent

Some university students still unsure what qualifies as yes or no

Students outside the Dalhousie Student Union Building on Thursday. Photo: Cara Downey

In light of the Dalhousie dentistry scandal and the aftermath of Saint Mary’s University’s rape chant controversy, the issue of sexual consent on campus is more prevalent than ever.

According to the Government of Canada, the legal definition of consent is “the voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the sexual activity in question.”

For many people, is the question of consent that simple? Or are the lines of consent blurred?

On the King’s and Dalhousie campuses on Thursday, students’ views were mixed.

Samuel Minden, a student in the Foundation Year Program at the University of King’s College, said consent should be clear.

“Both parties being aware of what they are doing and yes’ is very clear and both parties agree,” he said. “And anything that is not a clear yes’ should be seen as a clear ‘no’.”

Bobbi Jo, a former police officer and current first-year student at Dalhousie,, said the question isn’t difficult.

“Yes means yes, and no means no. There is no grey area or in between.”

Krista Bennett, a first-year Dal student, also said there should be no doubt about consent.

“If you say ‘yes’ then that’s consent, but if you are under the influence, you cannot give proper consent.”

The question of consent for some students wasn’t so clear. One male student at King’s who asked not to be identified said, ”it’s a tough issue to discuss.”

However, he did say, “more education and awareness is needed.”

A female student at Dal who also asked not to be named said, “I cannot give a clear answer to the question of consent.”