November 1, 2015

INSOMNIA THEATER (AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT EDITION): This summer New York became the second state to pass an affirmative consent—or, as I like to call it, “prove yourself innocent”—law, which requires college students to demonstrate that they received “clear permission” to engage in “sexual activity.” We at FIRE were curious how many students were aware of the new law and understood its implications, so we sent FIRE’s Shelby Emmett to New York University in New York City to ask the students themselves.

What Shelby found during her visit to the Big Apple, however, were more questions. Students were very confused about many of the key elements of the ambiguous law, such as what constitutes a “sexual act,” what demonstrates consent, the law’s requirements when one or both parties have been drinking, and, most importantly, how you would prove you got consent after the sexual encounter had already occurred.

Some of the students were not only confused, but also worried about the law. As one student said, “That’s what scares the sh*t out of me. Because if anything happens, if someone says I did anything or something is misconstrued, I’m automatically the villain, I’m automatically the bad guy, and it’s up to me to prove that I’m not—which is interesting, because in America it’s supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.”

You can read more about Shelby’s interviews over at FIRE’s website and watch the video below: