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Consent Defined

USU defines consent as informed, freely given and mutual among all participants involved. If coercion, intimidation, threats, and/or physical force is used, there is no consent. A person cannot give consent if he or she lacks the ability to understand the decision because of disability, is sleeping and/or unconscious, consumption of alcohol or drugs or if he or she is unwillingly restrained.

The use of alcohol or drugs does not justify or excuse sexual harassment/misconduct and never makes someone at fault for experiencing sexual harassment/misconduct. Consent must be ongoing, throughout each instance of sexual activity, and for each form of sexual contact.

Consent to one form of sexual contact does not constitute consent to all forms of sexual contact. For example, an individual may agree to kiss but choose not to engage in touching of the intimate parts or sexual intercourse. Consent may be withdrawn at any time. An individual who seeks to withdraw consent must communicate through clear words or actions a decision to cease the sexual activity. Once consent is withdrawn, the sexual activity must cease immediately.

In the state of Utah, a 16 or 17 year-old cannot consent to sexual activity if the other person is ten (10) or more years older than the minor.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault can take on many forms and can include a spectrum of acts, from unwanted touching to rape.

Sexual Assault (Intercourse): Any form of vaginal, anal, or oral penetration, however slight, by a penis, object, tongue, or finger without a person’s consent; and oral copulation (mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact) without a person’s consent.

Sexual Assault (Contact): Any intentional sexual touching, without a person’s consent (intentional sexual touching may include contact, under or over the clothing, with the breasts, buttocks or groin touching another with any of these body parts; making another person touch any of these body parts under or over clothing; and/or the emission of ejaculate on the clothing or body of another person without that person’s consent.

Sexual Harrassment

USU defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal, written or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or status as a student in a course, program or activity;
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting an individual; or
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for working or learning.

Sexual harassment encompasses any sexual attention that is unwanted. Examples include:

  • Unwelcome comments about a person’s clothing or body
  • Coercion for a date or a romantic or intimate relationship
  • Unwelcome touching, kissing, hugging or massaging
  • A course of unwanted attention that is repeated or obsessive
  • Giving letters, personal gifts, and/or materials of a sexual nature
  • Use of unwanted force in connection with sexual activity or attempted sexual activity
  • Subtle pressure for sexual activity
  • Engaging in sexual activity with a person who is incapacitated
  • Engaging in sexual activity with someone who did not give consent to the sexual activity
  • Videotaping or photographing of activity of a sexual or private nature without the consent of the person(s) being videotaped or photographed
  • Use of email, the Internet or other forms of digital media to facilitate any of the conduct listed above


Stalking is the repeated harassment or invasion of privacy that leaves a person in fear for his or her safety or the safety of loved ones. Stalking can include physically following another, repeated and unwanted contact, closely observing a person’s actions for an extended time (including through social media), and inappropriately contacting a person’s family or friends. Stalking is against the law in Utah.

If you are being stalked, SAAVI can help you navigate your options and provide confidential counseling.

Helping a Loved One

If someone you know is the victim of sexual violence, stalking, hazing or hate crime, you can take steps to help them:

  1. Listen. Support your friend by withholding your judgement and refraining from giving advice.
  2. Believe his or her story. It takes courage to tell others about a personal painful experience. The two most important responses you can offer are “I believe you” and “I’m here for you”.
  3. Respect his or her decisions. Your friend will likely feel that their sense of choice and control was stolen. Help him or her restore their sense of control. The decision to tell others or who to contact or report to is a personal decision. Please note, if your friend or loved one is under the age of 18 and has been assaulted or abused, it is required by law that a report be made.
  4. Contact us. Even if your friend is not willing to come see us, you can help us help relay important information about options and resources.