Mandatory USC sex training tells students ‘consent is never a blanket statement’

The director of the initiative teaches that whomever is “asking” for consent during a sexual interaction must continually “check in” with their “partner or partners” in order to have received genuine consent.

The University of Southern California announced a mandatory “affirmative consent” training for all incoming students.

As students returned to campus for the fall semester, the University of Southern California rolled out a program set on instilling the concept of  “affirmative consent,” in hopes of making a “yes means yes” attitude the “standard in every sexual encounter at USC.”

Brenda Ingram, director of Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention and Services at USC Student Health, launched the initiative called “Trojans Respect Consent,” in which all incoming freshmen, were required, beginning Monday, to undergo 90 minutes of training on her concept of “affirmative consent,” according to a school news release.

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“Though not all affirmative consent laws require verbal affirmation, the overarching idea is to shift the legal narrative from ‘no means no’ to ‘yes means yes,’” Ingram says in the release.

The director emphasizes that it is “critical” to “check in with your partner or partners every step of the way and continually assess whether they are able to provide rational, genuine consent.”

“Though by no means a comprehensive answer to the problem of assault, creating clearer parameters to the definition of consent can help move the needle on the larger mission of eliminating sexual violence,” Ingram said about her plan to impress upon students that “consent is never a blanket statement.”

Ingram advocates for both affirmative consent laws and university policies in order to “ensure that every participant is providing authentic, uncoerced, ongoing, voluntary permission to proceed at every step in a given sexual encounter.” 

[RELATED: U. of Minn. institutes new affirmative consent policy]

But the university says that even with these policies in place, “other factors can complicate the consensuality of a sexual encounter,” such as when one or both of the parties involved are intoxicated.

According to Ingram, “it is incumbent upon the person asking for consent to receive conscious and informed affirmation in order to proceed.” 

Campus Reform reached out to the university for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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