Image: Jean Koulev, Flickr
[Robert Wheatley | Lifestyle Editor]
Freshers’ Week is a fantastic opportunity for Hertfordshire students to meet others during a variety of events, from our packed Freshers’ fair stalls, to nights out at the forum with amazing drink deals. University is one of the best places to make friends and, occasionally, a good place to meet that special someone.
Especially after a night out, the opportunity for sex to happen increases when you’ve gulped a few drinks down. One thing can lead to another and soon you’re either wandering (or stumbling) back home.
Hey, sex isn’t a bad thing; that’s not what I’m leading up to. Fully consensual, safe sex is a great release of stress, a good mood booster, and ultimately a great experience. The key thing here, other than protection, is consent, and it’s unfortunately an issue universities still face during Freshers’ week.
Laura Bates of The Guardian wrote an article about Freshers’ week sexism and its damage. She cited a whole collection of true stories, including one female student who was pinned against a railing at a club by a student advisor despite her protests; and a tweet showed a quote from Facebook, “it’s not rape if it’s Freshers’.”
Sexual consent is defined in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 as someone who possesses the ‘freedom and capacity to make that choice.’ But, as our previous deputy editor, Laura Noakes’ puts it in her article, “it isn’t ‘yes means yes’ and ‘no means no’.” It’s not that simple.
A night out can lead to sexual activity, but alcohol is never an excuse for sexual assault. This is where the ‘capacity’ part comes in: an intoxicated person is unlikely to have the capacity to make the choice if they are drunk or under the influence of drugs. Encouraging the use of these in order to have sex is a means of reducing capacity, which is illegal.
Any form of manipulation is also illegal. If you are struggling to persuade someone to engage in sexual activity, the conversation must be dropped: a consenting partner is not created out of pressure, ever.
What people also need to consider is; it takes more than a verbal ‘yes’ from a sexual partner. A person acting nervous or voicing apprehension towards sex is a cue for you to also ask whether they really want to go ahead. Even if they do initially consent, it is not a permanent confirmation: any desire to stop means you must stop, or else you are committing assault.
So just remember, Freshers’ week will be fun and a brilliant opportunity to meet new people, but it’s not an excuse for sexual assault. Have a great time, but be safe and considerate as well!
If you need any advice on sex or general wellbeing then head over to herts.ac.uk/university-life/student-support for more information