What You Need to Know About The New UH Sexual Assault Policy

We all know UH sends out emails and newsletters every day to keep you informed of campus news and changes, but sometimes most of the time the information overload can cause important stuff to  slip through the cracks. One of those lost pieces is the news of a revised sexual assault policy, specifically Executive Policy 1.204. Obviously no one wants to read the legal language to see what our rights are on this campus, so HCHI did the dirty work and is here to tell you what's up.

 

The big takeaways are:

 

1. The school needs to do a better job of educating its students.

The policy talks about requiring all campuses in the UH system to have, "comprehensive education and prevention programs that inform the University community about the policies, resources, complaint options, remedies, and the risks and myths that contribute to sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking." It's a good start. Hopefully, an acceptable strategy for educating was not sending us the link to the policy itself.

2. Affirmative Consent

When engaging in sexual activity of any kind with someone, the long-lived and popular policy of no means no is gone. It is now more like assume no unless you hear an explicit yes. The policy is also clear that the affirmation needs to come from a partner who is in a position to consent. This means consent cannot come from someone who is too drunk, too young and/or doesn't speak your language. Another important part of the definition of affirmative consent is, " Past consent does not imply future consent; silence or an absence of resistance does not imply consent.  Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another.  Consent must be ongoing throughout sexual activity and can be withdrawn at any time." So affirmative consent is not a season pass to your body, it's a one time deal which can be taken away at any time. 

3. Zero-tolerance

This one made me a little concerned. UH officials have been pushing this new policy as our new "zero-tolerance policy" for sexual assault. This implies that until now in the year 2015, our school had something other than "zero tolerance" towards sexual violence, which is troubling itself. Bottom-line, there is never a time, place or reason to be sexually violent with anyone. But I guess better late than never.

 

The last time this policy had been revised was in 2006. Nearly a decade later, we hope these changes can make a real difference in creating a safe environment for students.