“I think most of these differences are matters of nuance and maybe they’re informed by some particular case that happened on a particular campus,” said Barbara Krause, deputy general counsel for Appalachian State University.
Each member analyzed UNC-Pembroke’s policy and offered suggestions for alterations or clarifications.
For subcommittee member Ronette Gerber, UNC-Pembroke’s director of Title IX and Clery Compliance, providing definitions that would minimize ambiguities to help students behave safely was particularly important.
“This is a tough conversation for students to have with each other in the moment,” she said. “And I get the sense when I’m talking with students that they’re trying to figure out how to consent without saying ‘I want to have sex’ or ‘I don’t want to have sex.’”
The working definition of consent indicates it cannot be passive.
When debating the definition of sexual assault, the group clarified that many of their terms might differ from legal definitions. These terms are defined for the purposes of Title IX, said Robert Joyce, a professor in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government.
Joseph Graham, UNC-Greensboro’s student body president, proposed the subcommittee use language that was gender-inclusive.
“In these other definitions, we should not glance over that,” Graham said. “I think, in an act of trying to be as transparent as possible and as inclusive as possible, we should just take out male, female, his and her.”
As the meeting came to a close, the group noted the lack of clarity in how and to what extent their policy would be implemented. They discussed the potential for policy definitions to be used as guidelines by universities or as direct mandates of the Board of Governors.
“Every campus who has something they’ve worked on is going to have some level of resistance to some other new set of definitions,” Krause said.
The subcommittee’s final definitions and policy will be presented at a full committee meeting on Feb. 8 for review.