University enacts affirmative consent policy

School leaders said the revamped policy is easier to understand and enforce.

by Benjamin Farniok

After months of discussion, the University of Minnesota’s affirmative consent policy took effect Monday, according to a letter the school sent to student government leaders.

In the letter, University President Eric Kaler said he received permission from the Board of Regents to immediately implement the school’s “yes means yes” policy, which had language tweaked to more clearly define affirmative consent.

The change comes in time to educate new students during welcome week, Minnesota Student Association President Joelle Stangler said.  

 “I am excited to see that our incoming students will be educated about one policy and will be able to do it in a more cohesive way than if we had to change it with the first few months of school,” she said.

The policy was originally set to be implemented last month, but it drew criticism from regents regarding its legal implications and ambiguous language. Regents asked Kaler to delay the implementation at a July meeting so the board could further examine it.

The policy’s language was reworked to make it easier to enforce and understand, Board of Regents Chair Dean Johnson said, adding that it is still unclear how violations of the code will be handled.

Regent Darrin Rosha said the policy doesn’t specify the way alleged violations are treated, but he said that should be discussed going forward to ensure fair treatment of those involved in a case.

Though the alterations don’t drastically alter the original policy, Stangler said the changes make it easier to understand.

The board will consider ratifying the new policy at its September meeting.