Consent & Other Definitions

Consent represents the cornerstone of a respectful and healthy intimate relationship. SAIC strongly encourages its community members to communicate—openly, honestly, and clearly—about their actions, wishes, and intentions when it comes to sexual behavior, and to do so before engaging in sexual conduct.

Affirmative Consent

Consent is the communication of an affirmative, conscious, ongoing, and freely made decision by each participant to engage in agreed upon forms of sexual contact. Consent requires an outward demonstration, through understandable words or actions, that conveys a clear willingness to engage in sexual contact.

Consent is not to be inferred from silence, passivity, or a lack of resistance, and relying on non-verbal communication alone may result in a violation of SAIC's Title IX policy and Policy Prohibiting Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking. For example, a person who does not physically resist or verbally refuse sexual contact may not necessarily be giving consent. There is no requirement that an individual verbally or physically resist unwelcome sexual contact for there to be a violation of the Policy.

Consent is not to be inferred from a current or previous dating or sexual relationship. Even in the context of a relationship, there must be mutual consent to engage in sexual contact. Consent to one form of sexual contact does not constitute consent to any other form of sexual contact, nor does consent to sexual contact with one person constitute consent to sexual contact with any other person. Additionally, consent to sexual contact on one occasion is not consent to engage in sexual contact on another occasion.

Consent cannot be obtained by coercion or force or by taking advantage of one's inability to give consent because of Incapacitation or other circumstances. Under Illinois law, a person must be at least 17 years old in order to give consent to Sexual Intercourse. It is also illegal in Illinois for a person 17 years old or older to commit sexual acts on a person under the age of 18 if they have a position of authority or trust over that person.

A person who has given consent to engage in sexual contact may withdraw consent at any time. However, withdrawal of consent requires an outward demonstration, through understandable words or actions, that clearly conveys that the person is no longer willing to engage in sexual contact. Once consent is withdrawn, the sexual contact must cease immediately.


An individual who is incapacitated is unable to give Affirmative Consent. States of Incapacitation include sleep, unconsciousness, intermittent consciousness, or any other mental or altered state where the individual is unaware that sexual contact is occurring. Incapacitation may also exist because of a mental or developmental disability that impairs the ability to understand the nature of the act  to consent to sexual contact. Alcohol or drug use is one of the prime causes of Incapacitation. Where alcohol or drug use is involved, Incapacitation is a state beyond intoxication, impairment in judgment, or "drunkenness." 

Because the impact of alcohol or other drugs varies from person to person, evaluating whether an individual is Incapacitated, and therefore unable to give Affirmative Consent, requires an assessment of whether the consumption of alcohol or other drugs has rendered the individual physically helpless or substantially incapable of:

  • Making decisions about the potential consequences of sexual contact;
  • Appraising the nature of one's own conduct;
  • Communicating Affirmative Consent to sexual contact; or
  • Communicating unwillingness to engage in sexual contact.

Where an individual's level of impairment does not rise to incapacitation, it is still necessary to evaluate the impact of intoxication on Affirmative Consent. In evaluating whether affirmative consent was sought or given, the following factors may be relevant:

  • Intoxication may impact one's ability to give Affirmative Consent and may lead to Incapacitation (the inability to give Affirmative Consent).
  • A person's level of intoxication is not always demonstrated by objective signs; however, some signs of intoxication may include difficulty walking, poor judgment, difficulty communicating, slurred speech, or vomiting.
  • An individual's level of intoxication may change over a period of time based on a variety of subjective factors, including the amount of substance intake, speed of intake, body mass, and metabolism.No matter the level of an individual's intoxication, if that individual has not affirmatively agreed to engage in sexual contact, there is no Affirmative Consent.

Anyone engaging in sexual contact must be aware of their own and the other person's level of intoxication and capacity to give Affirmative Consent. The use of alcohol or other drugs can lower inhibitions and create an atmosphere of confusion about whether consent is effectively sought and freely given. If there is any doubt as to the level or extent of one's or the other individual's intoxication or Incapacitation, the safest course of action is to forgo or cease any sexual contact. An individual's intoxication is never an excuse for or a defense for committing Sexual Assault, and it does not diminish one's responsibility to obtain Affirmative Consent.

Prohibited Behavior

Sexual Assault includes both Sexual Intercourse Without Consent and Sexual Contact Cithout Consent.

Sexual Intercourse Without Consent means having or attempting to have sexual intercourse with another individual without Affirmative Consent. Sexual intercourse means vaginal or anal penetration, however slight, with any body part or object, or oral penetration involving mouth-to-genital contact.

Sexual Contact Without Consent means having sexual contact with another individual without Affirmative Consent. Sexual contact means the touching of the person's breasts, buttocks, or anal area, groin or genital areas, or other intimate body parts for the purpose of sexual gratification. Sexual assault is an extreme form of sexual harassment. For more information about sexual harassment, which is also prohibited by SAIC's policies, please see the policies Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation in the Student Handbook, Faculty Dashboard, and Employee Guidelines. If a report includes allegations of Sexual Assault, then the process and procedures set forth in the Policy Prohibiting Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking will be followed in the assessment, investigation, and resolution of the report. In no event shall a report proceed simultaneously through more than one internal SAIC procedure.

Domestic violence is violence committed by a current or former spouse, intimate partner, or family member of the other person. Domestic violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse. Domestic violence requires more than just two people living together; the people cohabitating must be spouses, family members, or have, or have had, an intimate relationship.

Dating violence is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a relationship of romantic or intimate nature with the other person. Dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse. The existence of such a relationship shall take into account the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that is unwelcome and would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety (or the safety of a third party) or suffer emotional distress.

  • Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person's property.
  • Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim.
  • Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

Retaliation is defined as any adverse or negative action (or threat of an adverse or negative action) against an individual because that individual (1) in good faith, reported Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and/or Stalking; (2) participated as a party or witness in an investigation or a proceeding related to such allegations; or (3) is thought to have participated in a good-faith report of Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and/or Stalking, or is thought to have participated as a party or witness in an investigation of such allegations.