One drink rape

Two popular social activities among college students may appear to be harmless fun, but the combination of alcohol and sex could turn one crazy night into a felony charge quicker than you think. It’s fair to say that most college students have been in a situation where they’ve had a few drinks at a party and met someone they were attracted to. Many have probably acted on that urge despite the fact that neither of them had been sober at the time. Sounds harmless, right? What neither of them probably knew at the time is that a girl’s sexual consent is deemed invalid if she is the least bit intoxicated. In addition, the male involved could be charged with sexual assault or even rape, even if the girl had verbally consented to sex. Before I go on, a quick disclaimer. UVM’s sexual assault policy does not discriminate between the genders or sexual orientations of offenders or victims. The vast majority of sexual assault cases have female victims with male assailants. This column uses that pattern for simplicity, so substitute pronouns where appropriate. The UVM Sexual Assault Policy defines sexual assault as: “Any sexual contact forced on another person through any means including, but not limited to, threats to harm them or another, intimidation, coercion, or lack of consent. If someone is pressured or intimidated into sexual contact, or is otherwise mentally or physically incapable of consent, the University of Vermont considers this sexual assault.” Most of the clause provides necessary protections from sexual predators, all except the clause about the incapability of consent. UVM’s definition of mentally or physically incapable states: “A person who is rendered temporarily or permanently incapable of making decisions for any reason or is otherwise unable to give clear consent. This may be caused by, but is not limited to, administration or use of alcohol or other drugs.” This means that the first beer she drinks means you can’t legally ask her if tonight’s the night. Well, you can ask her, but even if she says yes, legally it still means no. You might also notice that passing her the Dutch essentially means she can’t legally tell you she’ll sleep with you. Caffeine and nicotine are drugs too, but I doubt the judge would really believe that the cup of coffee she drank clouded her reasoning. Though the law does beg the question, what constitutes a drug? But before I get flooded with hate mail from sexual assault victims, let me be clear about my position. In general, the stricter the sexual assault policy the better. It’s not as if most women are salivating at the opportunity to press sexual assault charges after having two or three drinks followed by some regrettable sex. Today’s secular, liberal youth has made casual sex more acceptable and less stigmatized. In effect, stringent sexual assault policies provide women who have: been unknowingly drugged, or, drank a fifth of tequila in an hour, to be legally protected from that creepy guy who keeps smiling at her funny while he’s refilling her drink. It would only be worthwhile for a woman to activate this sexual assault policy if, in fact, she feels her consent was not valid and that her partner should have been able to recognize that. In court, the jury would not grant the woman money damages, so don’t worry too much guys. She won’t charge you just because she wants to squeeze a little dough out of you. The sexual assault policy clearly sets up an unequal power dynamic between the girl and the guy once alcohol is added to the potential of sex. Before the situation reaches an NC-17 rating, the male has 100 percent responsibility to determine, first, if she is capable of giving sexual consent, and second, if she consents is it consent that will hold up under the law. That’s a heavy weight to place on a college student who is likely to be wasted himself, especially when the result of a wrong choice is hard time behind bars. On the flip side, by the time the awkward next morning rolls around, the power to determine the validity of the sexual consent is shifted 180 degrees to the woman. She decides whether or not to press charges, while the man’s next chance to defend himself is in a court of law. So, I am sorry if I scared the guys. I would take the law with a grain of salt. After all, in practice, this law probably makes the majority of sex among college students illegal. Just be careful when you’re trying to pull tail down at the bars or at the next party, because once things reach the bedroom (or occasionally the kitchen floor) your legal standings may depend on how bad her hangover is the next morning.