Trinity finalizes new sexual assault policy with focus on defining intoxication, incapacitation and consent

Following student and faculty forums, Trinity proposes updated sexual assault policy. The sexual assault policy has proposed updated language defining when individuals are considered “intoxicated” or “incapacitated” and how this affects consent. The update has not yet been added to the student handbook.

“The [forum last semester] led to some new language related to how we define “˜incapacitation,’ said dean of students and associate vice president for student affaurs David Tuttle. “It was shared with the Coalition for Respect and received well.”

The forum, held last October, was in response to continued discussion of the sexual assault policy on campus. The forum involved a number of student group representatives bringing forth statements on the definition of “intoxication” as opposed to “incapacitation” and further discussion on this subject. Following this forum, suggestions for updating the language on consent and how incapacitation can affect it were suggested, with this final change being brought forth and accepted by the Coalition for Respect.

The forum was one of the many events and responses in the ongoing discussion of the sexual assault policy on campus. Others include the recent campus climate survey offered to students, and the introduction of the Rape Aggression Defense program.

“As always, prevention is the most critical area,” Tuttle said. “I feel like our direction over the past year and training so many people on the investigative and advocacy areas are pretty positive.”

The sexual assault and campus climate survey opened to students on Jan. 15. The survey is estimated to take 15 to 20 minutes, is anonymous and it can be accessed online. The information received from the survey will be used to contribute to campus safety. The responses will be used to further preventative and responsive action on campus. The Trinity University Police Department will also interpret the information received from the survey.

“Unfortunately, our role is reactive. We try to be proactive,” said chief of police Paul Chapa. “We will try to take action to be a force of ensuring we have [all] possible training and awareness that we can for our community.”

The Rape Aggression Defense course, offered to students, faculty, and staff last semester, is free and takes three days to complete. The course teaches individuals how to defend themselves in dangerous situations. It will be included in the curriculum next fall and would potentially be offered as an elective. This would again be available to all students, faculty and staff.

“[Sexual assault] is something we as community need to address collectively and together,” Chapa said. “I feel as if [this response] has identified the community that we are, strong and supportive, not only here but nationwide.”

The revised wording for Trinity University’s recently revised sexual assualt policy is as follows:

“Incapacitation as a Factor in Consent”

Students who are not sure if they are interacting with a person who has diminished capacity should, as a matter of practice, avoid engaging in a sexual act with that person at that time. A person who has ingested a “˜date rape’ drug or is “blacked out” may not appear incapacitated, nonetheless this person is incapable of knowing consent. Thus, a student who has sexual interactions with anyone who may be under the influence of any substance is vulnerable to accusations of violations of this policy.

A person cannot consent if that person has no control of his or her motor skills, is unable to understand what is happening, blacked out, asleep, or unconscious for any reason, including voluntary or involuntary use of alcohol or drugs. Drunkenness is different than incapacitation, and does not, in itself, automatically indicate a violation, unless other factors, such as force, coercion, or lack of consent are involved.

An individual who engages in sexual activity when the individual knows, or should know, that the other person is incapacitated, has violated the policy.

Possession, use and/or distribution and/or administering of any incapacitating drugs, is prohibited and is a violation of this policy.

It is not an excuse that the accused party of sexual misconduct was drunk/intoxicated, and therefore did not realize the incapacity of the other.”