Expect Respect – What does consent mean to you?

In General

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Hi, it’s Sam Higman, VP Welfare, and I’m here with another Expect Respect blog following our campaign last week.


Trigger Warning: rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment

Last week, I wrote a blog about our Expect Respect campaign, which had a focus on sexual consent awareness. Throughout the week, student leaders, committee members and staff members wore  Expect Respect wristbands to show support for the campaign. In fact, many of us continue to wear them, and will do so on a daily basis.

We also ran the No Worries Wednesday Fayre on Wednesday 25 October, with relevant support and advice groups, societies, and charities who kindly donated their Wednesday to discuss with students what they do and what they can offer. The Fayre also provided another opportunity for leaves to be added to the Consent Conifer.

As I had hoped, the Consent Conifer was in fact blooming by the end of the week, adorned with leaves displaying individuals’ definitions of consent. The overarching theme to the responses seemed to revolve around one word: respect. Respect entails a sense of equality, mutual understanding, and trust; all necessary for explicit sexual consent.

Other definitions on the Consent Conifer included:

  • Consent is given permission to another person which welcomes sexual activity
  • If there’s any doubt, there is no consent. Verbal consent, 100%
  • An enthusiastic yes and feeling in control
  • Consent means safe, fun, and happy sex, where both parties are happy with every decision made
  • Both parties agreeing the boundaries


One leaf suggested that the word “consent” was quite the grey area, to which I disagree; if it is not a clear yes, it is simply a no. The reason why I launched this campaign and wrote this blog is because we all need to speak up and raise awareness about the importance and necessity of consent. Having sex without consent is rape; there are no blurred lines when it comes to explicit consent. Examples of when there is no consent would be:

  • When someone explicitly says “no” or resists to sexual activity
  • When someone withdraws their consent, at any time
  • When someone is intoxicated or inebriated and is unable to explicitly communicate their consent
  • When someone is unconscious
  • When someone who has previously engaged in sexual activity with someone else decides that they no longer want to. A yes last night gives them no right tonight
  • When someone is silent or passive – this is not explicit consent, and cannot be considered as such
  • When an assumption of valid consent is made, based on an individual’s body language, clothes, facial expressions, etc.

You cannot be content unless there is consent. Consent must be voluntary, freely given, and communicated explicitly and obviously – no exceptions.

If you feel like you may need some support, please visit the Advice Centre in Building 40. Advisers will be able to give you free, confidential, and impartial advice in a friendly and comfortable setting: check here for their contact details.

Let’s all Expect Respect.

Sam Higman, VP Welfare.

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