This Week in FIRE History: Hug at Your Own Risk at Gettysburg College
May 16, 2007
by Luke Sheahan
GETTYSBURG, Pa., May 11, 2006—Gettysburg College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy is so broad in scope that it draws no distinction between an innocent, spontaneous hug and forcible rape. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is calling for the repeal of this draconian policy, which prohibits most, if not all, of the sexual and even merely affectionate relations that take place on Gettysburg’s campus.
“This policy can turn almost any student at Gettysburg into a criminal,” stated FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “In its quest to rid the college of a social evil, Gettysburg has decided to make everyone guilty, leaving students’ futures at the whim of the administrators.”
Gettysburg promises its students that “they enjoy the same rights…that other citizens enjoy.” Yet Gettysburg subjects its students to an arbitrary and overbroad Sexual Misconduct Policy that infringes on students’ right to due process. Under the policy, “consent” to sexual interaction is defined as “the act of willingly and verbally agreeing (for example, by stating ‘yes’) to engage in specific sexual conduct. If either person at any point in a sexual encounter does not give continuing and active consent, all sexual contact must cease, even if consent was given earlier.” (Emphasis added.) The policy’s broad definition of sexual interaction includes not only sex acts but also “brushing, touching, grabbing, pinching, patting, hugging, and kissing.”
[B]y the very terms of the policy, husbands would have to ask permission to kiss their wives, boyfriends would have to ask permission to hug their girlfriends, and friends would have to ask permission to give an amiable pat on the back. And remember, failure to do so [is] deemed to be a form of “sexual assault.”