“Sex at the U gets a new set of rules.” This is the tantalizing front-page headline that greeted readers of the Star Tribune on July fifth. To add to the sensationalism, the Strib plastered the opening paragraphs next to a sample consent contract from the Affirmative Consent Project suggesting that prospective partners photograph themselves holding their signed sex contract.
I read the U’s proposed policy and frankly the rules seem not to be new rules, but rather old rules explicitly stated. Colleges and universities across the country are finally addressing discussing campus sexual assault. In a recent study described in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers found that 26% of surveyed women had experienced “incapacitated rape” (involving alcohol or drugs) by the end of their first year of college. 22% had experienced “forcible rape” by the end of their first year.
Detractors of the “yes means yes” movement worry about the rights of the accused, thinking they will be assumed guilty until proven innocent. They complain that a stolen kiss could be grounds for expulsion. Seriously? Can we not for one minute worry about these statistics from a “nationally representative survey of adults” helpfully provided by our government? Any potentially helpful conversation about the topic of campus sexual assault is better than the feigned-ignorance-is-bliss approach.
In the Star Trib article, Joelle Stangler, the U’s student body president, notes the current and historical “lack of due process” for victims of sexual assault. University of Minnesota students appear to be on board with the new proposal. And why wouldn’t they be? Let me paraphrase the “rules”: Make sure that your potential partner actually wants to have sex. With you. Don’t assume that a “yes” obtained last week equates to a “yes” right now. Don’t be a jerk. Drunk means “no.” Stoned means “no.” Passed out means “no.” This is not rocket science.
To the detractors, I say relax already. Conversation is good and a vitally necessary step-in-the-right-direction. The likelihood that hordes of young (primarily) men are going to be hauled off to prison indefinitely for crimes they did not commit is slimmer than the Donald Trump necktie line recently axed by Macy’s.
If you believe that attempted humor has no place in discussions of sexual assault – and I respect that opinion – please stop reading.
I will now offer some suggestions, helpful tips for improving the protection and safety of all parties interested in sexual activity.
1) Set up a Sex Tent in the middle of campus where interested parties may rendezvous and apply for a Sex Permit. In Minnesota, the Sex Tent should be made of brick, whereas in more temperates states, straw or sticks may suffice.
2) Require viewing of Amy Schumer’s “Football Town Nights” masterpiece.
3) Initial screening prior to receipt of a Sex Permit includes: blood alcohol level, urine toxicology, STI screening, MMPI, and a background check.
4) Permitting rules shall apply to all members of campus including faculty, staff, and administration.
5) Sexpliccants (sexual applicants) found to have aberrant test results will be further screened with cognitive competency evaulation.
6) If both (or all) parties qualify for and are still interested in anything remotely sexual after the aforementioned, they will be issued a Sex Permit (following fingerprinting and retinal scan) and an Official Sexerone (Sexual Chaperone).
7) According to my husband’s seventh grade gym teacher, the Sex Permit should remain in effect for “two to twenty minutes.”
8) The Official Sexerone will check in periodically with both/all sexual parties throughout sexual activity to assess whether “yes” has morphed into something else entirely, such as “No,” “What the #$%^& was I thinking?”, or “Get this thing off me!” Additionally, the Sexerone will video and audiotape all proceedings.
9) Involved parties will hand over their Sex Permit at the end of activities and go their separate ways.
10) The Official Sexerone will deposit all materials (including but not limited to the Sex Permit, screening results, and used condoms) into a locked vault where they will remain into perpetuity unless required by campus sexual assault investigators or law enforcement.
11) Students, faculty, staff, and administration are encouraged to factor the additional time required to obtain a Sex Permit into their academic/work schedules. Consider a lighter courseload or part-time employment.
12) For Sex Tent employment opportunities, please see the University’s job listings.
13) Anticipate a tuition increase.