University forum on consent scheduled for Oct. 28 regarding intoxication versus incapacitation

The university will hold an open forum at 6 p.m. on Oct. 28 to find a consensus on the definition of consent, particularly regarding intoxication and incapacitation.

A number of student groups, including the Student Conduct Board, Student Government Association, Residential Life student staff and Greek Council, will present their suggestions. All students may attend the forum. A location for the meeting has not yet been announced.

“The majority of the questions we received when working with Residential Life staff this year revolved around the question of intoxication and consent,” said David Tuttle, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “We felt that really needed to be addressed.”

The student organizations involved in the forum were selected because they encompass a wide portion of the student body. These groups were contacted in early September and asked to discuss within their groups the issue at hand and prepare a statement for the upcoming forum. They are not expected to bring forth a proposal, but instead will bring common themes and questions from their individual discussions to the larger discussion at the forum and try to resolve some of those concerns.

Each group will present its opinions, and a discussion will begin regarding the policy as it is. If students believe the level for incapacitation is set too high, then this will be noted and the conversation to change this will continue at a later date. Should a recommendation be made to change this, then the suggested policy changes will go to the Coalition for Respect, and then on to the Standards Committee for the university.

“If you don’t have the conversation, then you don’t get any ideas out there,” Tuttle said. “This is a student-centered approach.”

While the individual organizations will present their views, the goal of the forum is to synthesize all ideas presented. The forum was created in order to involve students in the process, as they are closest to the issue and have the best understanding of how it might impact actual cases in the future.

Tuttle noted that this might not be the only time that this approach is considered. This policy may be reviewed again by student groups in the future so that the definition and understanding changes  as the groups change, as this issue is always a matter of discussion.

“Inform yourself and don’t allow others to speak for you,” said Evan Lewis, president of the SGA. “Contact your representatives with your input.”

The number of organizations involved have emphasized the fact that the forum is open in order to  create a consensus throughout the university. To many students these issues are growing concerns and important to address.

“It is important to talk about this in order to gauge various situations,” said junior business major Zachary Galvin. “In regards to intoxication, although it is not ideal, not all social situations include sobriety which makes it important to discuss these issues of intoxication and consent.”

The organizations selected were chosen because they represent a large portion of the student body, and all students are welcome to attend the forum should they desire to do so.

“The choice to involve students so heavily in this speaks to the regard which the university holds us in,” Lewis said. “It is not an end point; it is something to revisit and reconsider, even when not pressured by a particular case.”