Earlier this month, changes were made to the Knox College consent policy when the word “necessarily” was removed from the following phrase: “Silence does not necessarily constitute consent.” While student activists are happy with this change, they argue that much more needs to be done to create a consent policy that is suitable for the campus.
Junior Allie Fry and other involved students brought up problems in the policy to the administration, but Fry said it took several weeks before the word “necessarily” was removed.
“I just felt that there was a lot of inaction because we called it out and it took three or four weeks before one word was removed. A word that we felt was very dangerous,” she said.
Fry serves as co-president of student groups SASS (Students Against Sexism in Society) and ASAP (Allies for Sexual Assault Prevention). She said that this change was positive, but the current policy on consent still needs to be updated.
“I think it is vague, I think words like ‘coercion’ are legal language that people may not understand because there are many different examples of how that could play out. I think it’s a lot about what consent isn’t and not about what consent is.”
Sophomore Sithara Vincent, the self-care chair of ASAP, agreed with Fry and noted that there is more to consent than Knox’s policy currently covers.
“Really the consent policy right now only hits the points of it shouldn’t be coerced and it shouldn’t be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and consent is a lot more than that,” Vincent said.
The students of ASAP are currently working to create a “Consent Contract” that students would agree to in a similar way to the Honor Code. Fry said that ideally when students check into their Knox accounts online, they would have to agree to the contract.
“We see this as just as important, if not more important than an anti-plagiarism movement. We want to not only put out the ‘Consent Contract’ and have people agree to it, but we want to accompany that with a lot of education … we’re working to prevent assault that comes from ignorance [of what it means to practice consent], which does happen a lot on a college campus.”
Vincent said that by creating the “Consent Contract” the student body could become more aware of the consent policy, as many students may go through their time at Knox unaware of it.
“[The Honor Code is] something that every student knows about, but the consent policy — people can graduate from here and they don’t even know that we have one,” she said.
Vincent mentioned that an obstacle in the process of reforming sexual assault and misconduct has been communication between the student body and administration.
“We do constantly feel like we’re pushing them and we’re doing what they should have done a long time ago.”