Alcohol undeniably creates a dangerous gray area around consent, compromising judgments as well as the justice system’s ability to deal with sexual assault.
This issue hits close to home for many UNC students.
This past year, Delaney Robinson’s allegations against Allen Artis brought the complexities associated with alcohol and consent to the forefront of UNC’s consciousness, as the degree to which alcohol was involved was a key issue in the case.
Both Artis and Robinson admitted to drinking. Artis said consent was given and he did not know if Robinson had been drinking.
UNC's Title IX office found Artis not responsible, and the criminal charges were dismissed over the summer.
The case made the UNC community aware of a lack of standards for determining when someone is too drunk to consent.
Everyone’s limits and thresholds are different and subjective. This subjectivity compromises consent, a concept that is usually discussed as a clear “yes” or “no.” Alcohol introduces the possibility for our justice system to retroactively question victims.
Over the past few weeks, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been in the news for developing a new standard by which to evaluate college sexual assault cases, with the new guidelines emphasizing the rights of the alleged perpetrators.
In this context, it is now more important than ever to know your rights and know your limits.
If you have any confusion whatsoever, or are not sure if someone is too drunk to consent, don’t do it. It also makes sense to check in a lot throughout having sex to make sure that your partner remains enthusiastic.
The Carolina Women’s Center is an incredible resource for learning more about consent and ways to have open conversations about sex with your partner.
Stay alert — especially in environments with alcohol, it is important to watch out for the safety of people around you.