Creating a Culture of Consent

Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) will not tolerate sexual misconduct, as defined in the NMC policy, in any form. Such acts of violence are prohibited by NMC policy, as well as state and federal laws. Northwestern Michigan College is committed to preventing sexual misconduct on campus and is prepared to respond promptly to any form of sexual misconduct that is brought to its attention.

What is consent?

Consent is…

  • established between both parties before engaging in any type of sexual activity
  • active and mutual participation during any sexual activity
  • being fully conscious and aware in the decision making process
  • clear communication between both parties in any type of intimate relationship
  • a clear and concise intent to act

Consent is not

  • a sexual act as a result of force, coercion or threats
  • engaging in any sexual activity when one party is unable to give consent due to being physically helpless, mentally incapable due to drugs or alcohol or mentally disabled
  • given by silence or when an individual is passed out
  • engaging in sexual activity with someone who is not of sufficient age
  • an option… it’s a law

Learn more about affirmative consent (PDF) »

Why is consent so important?

Maintaining a safe campus is crucial for students to feel comfortable within their learning environment and to interact freely without experiencing fear. Frequently, those who experience sexual misconduct also face other serious mental health issues after the assault occurs. These issues can include anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, post-traumatic stress and feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth. In order to lessen these occurrences, asking for consent is important. Whether sexual activity is part of a short-term or long-term relationship, asking for consent allows the individuals to establish a foundation with boundaries that are healthy for all that are involved.

Sexual misconduct can happen anywhere at any time, including times during the day when students are in class or engaging in student group activities. Students should know that there is an increased risk of sexual assault outside of those hours when individuals are more likely to engage in social activities, especially when alcohol or other substances are involved. Consent cannot be given by individuals who are inebriated.

Alcohol and Consent

Alcohol is the number one “date rape drug.” However, alcohol does not cause sexual assault; the person who commits the assault is the reason for the assault. If someone is passed out or black out drunk, they cannot give consent by law. Having sex with someone who is heavily intoxicated is illegal under Michigan law. If you are questioning whether or not the person is sober enough to give consent, it is better to engage in sexual activity at another time. Here are some signs that someone is too intoxicated to be able to give consent:

  • If someone is sleeping or passed out
  • Someone who cannot stand up straight and falls down
  • People who cannot stay focused and keep appropriate eye contact
  • Someone whose speech is slurred, or who cannot be understood and/or comprehend what is going on around them
  • A person who has vomited on themselves or on someone else

NMC students are to abide by both the College’s policy and Michigan state law.

  1. Michigan State law
  2. NMC Student Rights and Responsibilities »

What is Michigan’s law regarding consent?

In Michigan, consent is not an element of criminal sexual conduct that prosecutors are required to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, it is an affirmative defense available for defendants who are charged with committing criminal sexual conduct under some of the provided for circumstance. For instance, it may be used to negate the elements of “force or coercion.” According to Michigan’s standard criminal jury instructions, a person consents to a sexual act by agreeing to it freely and willingly, without being forced or coerced. It is not necessary to show that the complainant resisted the defendant to prove that this crime was committed. Nor is it necessary to show that the complainant did anything to lessen to damage to him/herself (Mich, CJI@d 20.27).

If you have questions regarding Michigan’s definition of consent, please call the Student Life Office at (231) 995-1118 to speak with a counselor.

Reporting to the Office for Civil Rights

Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972 requires that all entities receiving federal funds or financial assistance prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment in their education programs and activities.

Incident reporting to the Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is an option for resolution of discrimination. To file a complaint:


Cleveland Office
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
1350 Euclid Avenue, Suite 325
Cleveland, OH 44115-1812
Phone: (216) 522-4970
FAX: ( 216) 522-2573
TDD: (800) 877-8339