Culture

University Policy Seemed to Suggest Students in Wheelchairs Could Never Consent to Sex

School claims that the policy has since been revised — the website just doesn't reflect it yet.

The sexual-assault policy currently posted on Armstrong State University’s website states that students with a “physical and/or mental impairment are unable to give consent” to sex.

The document never clarifies exactly what qualifies as a “physical and/or mental impairment,” which, as Ashe Schow of the Washington Examiner points out, “appears to indicate that a student in a wheelchair would not be able to ever consent to sexual activity simply because of his or her physical handicap.”

Schow said that when she asked the Savannah, Ga., school’s Title IX coordinator, Deidra Dennie, for clarification, Dennie claimed that the version posted on the website was an old one. According to Schow, Dennie insisted that the school has since added the words “’that inhibit’ to clarify this specific definition” — they simply haven’t gotten around to making this distinction on the website yet.

But here’s the thing: How could a policy like this have ever been adopted in the first place? You would think administrators would want to be a little more careful when defining the standards by which another student can be considered a rapist. After all, taken literally, this policy could make a student guilty of sexual assault because he had sex with someone with anything from Attention Deficit Disorder to a sprained ankle.

Worse, Schow reports that the “not-yet-updated” policy listed on the website went into effect last September — nearly a year ago — and that the people she talked with at the school didn’t even seem to be aware of the “physical and/or mental impairment” language at all.

#related#Basically, Armstrong State doesn’t seem too concerned about making sure its sexual-assault policy is clear — an attitude clearly unacceptable when it comes to something so serious. Call me a rape apologist, but I think it’s important to make sure that the steps we take to crack down on assault don’t inadvertently classify virtually all sex as belonging to that category.

According to the Examiner, Dennie claimed that the school is currently working on approving a new code of conduct (including a new sexual-assault policy) for the upcoming school year.

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.

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