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Change in "Consent" Policy

As August turns into September students from across the nation will return to Miami University to begin a new academic year. One of the changes awaiting students when they return to campus are some changes in the Student Code of Conduct.

The Office of Community Standards (formerly known as OESCR) has released the Code of Conduct that will govern student behavior in the 2018-2019 academic year. In the 19-19 version is a change to the Code's definition of "consent" during sexual acts. 

Previously, consent could not be legally provided, no matter what words were used, if a person was "severely intoxicated." For those cases that arose from events during the 2017-2018 calendar, that definition will still be applied.

However, for the 18-19 academic calendar, consent cannot be legally provided, no matter what words were used, if a person was "substantially impaired" by alcohol or drugs. It is unclear what, if any, difference the Office of Community Standards believes exists between "severely intoxicated" and "substantially impaired."

While no definition was provided for "severely intoxicated" in the Code, in practice the term was evaluated on a case-by-case and person-by-person basis. Presumably, the same practice will be used for "substantially impaired" as the Code also fails to define the newly adopted term.

The Code does discuss "intoxication" in Rule 105(A) in prohibiting "intoxication or exhibiting negative behavior associated with intoxication after consuming alcohol." Whether the Office of Community Standards will be using that definition or a traditional dictionary definition of "impaired" to mean diminished or weakened. Unfortunately, the Code is silent on what definitions will be applied by the Administrative Hearing Panels handling Title IX cases in the '18-19 academic year.

Whether you seek to file a complaint of sexual misconduct under the Code, are defending against a complaint, or are a sexually active Miami student it is important that all Miami students understand the shift in disciplinary policy and the new standards for "consent." 

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