Sex and the campus: Consent

Welcome to Sex and the Campus, a weekly column where I discuss all things love and relationships. It should be noted that I do not claim to be any kind of expert in either area. Dating is hard, but hopefully reading this column won’t be.

If you have any burning questions about love and relationships, or just have a good dating horror story to share feel free to send them to

This week we’re talking about the C-word. That’s right we’re diving right into consent, and what that mysterious word actually means….

The first week of classes are over, homework is a distant thought that future you can deal with, and you’re single and ready to mingle. For USC students that normally means hitting up the Row or Menlo for the craziest parties–and the drinking. We all know it happens, you have a few drinks, that guy or girl is making eyes at you, and next thing you know you’re hooking up. (Let it be known that I in no way shape or form condone underage drinking, and the above is not an accurate example of how to get a girl/guy).

According to USC rules, an individual who is intoxicated cannot give consent, likewise a person who is unconscious also cannot give consent. So where is that little fuzzy line between a good time, and a bad night?

Since things tend to get a little confusing sometimes, here are Ali’s rules of consent:

  1. Consent is ongoing, and can be taken away at any point in time.
  2. Not saying, “No,” is not consent.
  3. Not fighting it, is not consent.
  4. Being under the influence of any substance impairs someone’s ability to give consent.
  5. Even if you’re naked, you do not have to have sex.
  6. Even if you’re making out, you do not have to have sex.
  7. Even if you’re having sex, you do not have to continue having sex.
  8. “Stealthing” is not ok.
  9. All sexual encounters should be respectful and kind. If at any point you sense discomfort with your partner, stop and see if they’re ok.
  10. Just don’t have intoxicated sex.

Sex is a big deal, and it’s not something that should be taken lightly. In college it’s easy to feel like everyone is doing it, but I promise you, they’re not. Being at a university is a time to figure out who you really are, it’s a time to learn and to foster relationships that will continue on into “real” adulthood. Sometimes the key to finding out who you are, is figuring out who you aren’t. When you’re in a situation and you start to get that tiny uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach, don’t ignore it. That little feeling could save you from making some really unfortunate mistakes.

I didn’t listen to that feeling very well my first couple of years of college. I let myself go — and not in the aesthetic sense. I clicked through, I had the talks with family about not putting myself in the wrong situations, but for some reason it just wasn’t enough. I still found myself blackout drunk, at a party, with someone who I thought was a friend; turns out they weren’t.

Just recently, I was watching one of my favorite shows from when I was in high school, The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I loved all the drama and teen angst that I didn’t seem to find at my uber-tiny, Christian college-prep school. However, watching it now, when I have much more of an understanding of the world, I realized how problematic that show is. No one in the show ever addresses the fact that the main character, Amy — and the one who is the pregnant teen — was sexually assaulted the night her baby was conceived. The writer’s liked to gloss over the fact that she, “just layed there,” and “didn’t really know what was happening.” I think the worst part was when Amy was confronted by a so-called friend who basically said it was all Amy’s fault because she didn’t know how to say no. Wow. That is what our generation grew up on. That is where a lot of us got our education about sex and consent, cause we certainly didn’t get it in school, and very rarely at home.

The problem with consent is that we’ve been conditioned our whole lives to ask questions like, “What were you wearing?”, “Were you drinking?”, and my personal least favorite, “Did you fight back?” Not saying no and actually wanting a sexual encounter to happen, are two different things. Fear paralysis is a real thing, and it is never your fault when someone violates and takes advantage of you. Don’t wait a couple of years to figure all this out, for once just take it from somebody who knows.

Keep it consensual SC.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted please follow this link to the resources USC has available: