White House Campaign Against Campus Sex Assaults Missed Alcohol Focus


The new White House recommendations on how colleges should respond to sexual assault failed to tackle the elephant in the room: the connection between alcohol use and rape, says Slate. If colleges are to reduce the incidence of campus sexual assault, maintains the website, they must have guidelines about when it is a crime to have sex with a person who is drunk. These rules need to be clear to students and to police or administrators who investigate these allegations and decide whether to impose punishment.

The key is to make clear when it is a crime to have sex with a person who is too intoxicated to be capable of giving meaningful consent. Sex with someone who is too drunk to consent is a crime even if the perpetrator uses no violence whatsoever to force his way. It is a crime even if the survivor does not physically resist or verbally object. It is a crime even if she is not passed out but is conscious before and during the encounter. It is a crime even if she was not drugged or forced or tricked into drinking but got drunk on her own. How intoxicated is too intoxicated to consent? After all, many people have sex under the influence of alcohol. The tipsy hookup may be the norm on college campuses. If the perpetrator didn't use physical violence and the victim didn't resist him, how can we be sure the drunken sex was not consensual?

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