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Who We Are
Cornell University
Consent Education

Consent Ed is a peer-to-peer education program that engages Cornell students in essential conversations about sex, alcohol, consent, and social responsibility. Through education, we can empower students to work towards creating a positive campus culture.

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What is Consent?

Affirmative consent is a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.


New York State law requires that consent be affirmative and includes the following:

Consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not necessarily constitute consent to any other sexual act.

Consent is required regardless of whether the person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time.

Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated, which occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity. Incapacitation may be caused by the lack of consciousness or being asleep, being involuntarily restrained, or if an individual otherwise cannot consent. Depending on the degree of intoxication, someone who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent.

Consent cannot be given when it is the result of coercion, intimidation, force, or threat of harm.

When consent is withdrawn or can no longer be given, sexual activity must stop.


In October of 2019, the university posted the findings of the 2019 Cornell Survey of Sexual Assault and Related Misconduct. New York state law (129-B) requires that all in-state universities conduct a survey of campus sexual violence every two years.

An overview and analysis of the survey results are available here.

For a more detailed look at the results of the survey, the data tables of responses can be found here.

Need more info?

For questions about consent and campus culture send us an email.

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