Why No Means No Matters on Campus

Teaching No Means No on Campus

Posted on 26 May 2015 |

Only Yes Means Yes CampaignIt's amazing how many different definitions one little word seems to have on campus. The word no seems simple enough. But when it comes to sex, some people still think No means "playing hard to get" or maybe. Or they can even take it as a challenge. Sadly, sometimes, No has no meaning at all, and is ignored. The results are all too often tragic, as the statistics show. 

Amid a rising number of sexual assaults on college campuses, there is a desperate need for clear and compelling "No means no" education on campus. But even after almost two decades of international "No means no" campaigns, overworked and underfunded Student Affairs and Campus Safety offices trying to deal with so many different demands may be missing the impact of this very simple message. 

The basic concept of full consent, whether it's about accepting a "No!" regardless of how far along the encounter may be, or turning it around into the newer "Yes means yes" version" (where the mere absence of a No does not imply consent) remains one of the most powerful messages students can receive. 

Whether you're designing a safety training program for the whole campus, printed safety materials to hand out to new and returning students, or for an informal dorm-based gathering. make sure these basic elements of consent are a part of your message:

1) There is no such thing as an encounter having gone "too far" for a No to be taken seriously. Shaming a partner by claiming they have led one on, or the idea of "no turning back now" has no place in responsible sexuality. 

2) An inability to consent clearly and rationally is an automatic No!  A partner who is drunk, passed out, or impared by drugs cannot consent to any sexual act. 

3) Asking a partner for a clear Yes before engaging in sex isn't "spoiling the moment." It's showing respect for oneself and one's partner. 

4) Violence or the threat of violence is never a valid means for getting to "Yes."

5) Say yes (or not saying no) because of peer pressure means not respecting yourself and your feelings. 

While a "No means no" campaign or training program won't end the epidemic of sexual violence on campus, it can't be overlooked one of the simplest and most effective ways to begin to turn the tide. 

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