Submission Date


Document Type




Faculty Mentor

Kara McShane


Presented during the 21st Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 19, 2019 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

When considering the topic of consent in reference to sexual relations, one might view the definition as straightforward. In this project, I demonstrate that no clear, singular definition of consent exists, but rather, focus on compiling differing definitions typically used. The main definitions focused on within the research are that of how the United States legal system defines consent, how higher education institutions define consent within their policies, and how our country defines consent culturally. Using the vast differences in the definitions as the prime example, I demonstrate that no clear, singular definition of consent exists; without a concise definition of the concept, consent cannot be used as a basis for understanding sexual relations. Thus, my argument holds that within sexual assault investigations on college campuses, consent cannot be used to make a decision as there is no clear definition of what it means to consent to a sexual relationship. After presenting this argument, I offer suggestions for how to address these issues on college campuses, focusing primarily on the understanding of consent that students have within college today.

Open Access

Available to all.