Skip to main content



Before engaging in any type of sexual activity with your partner, all parties involved need consent. But what, specifically, does consent mean?

According to BOG Governance Rule 1.6, consent is defined as "agreement, approval, or permission as to some act or purpose that is given knowingly, willingly, and voluntarily by a competent person. Silence, by itself, cannot constitute consent. Consent to one sexual act does not constitute or imply consent to a different sexual act. Previous consent cannot imply consent to future sexual acts. Consent is required regardless of the parties' relationship status or sexual history together."

Let's break it down further, in case it's still unclear.

To remember all the components of consent, WELLWVU likes to use the acronym VOICES.

  • V = Voluntary

    Each person is engaging in the behavior because they want to - not because they think they have to due to violence, intimidation, threats (physical or emotional), coercion, manipulation, or otherwise.

    Remember, silence does not mean consent.

  • O = Ongoing

    Consent to one thing does not mean consent to everything. Continuously check in with your partner to see if they're okay with what's happening. This can be a really simple "Hey, you doing okay?" And if they say "No" then you stop. Don't switch to a new activity without your partner giving the okay.

  • I = Informed

    Every person should be on the same page in every way. What exactly are you going to do together? How are you protecting yourself? Will you be using a barrier method (like a condom or dental dam)? What activities are a no-go?

    Let's be real - this is something that should be discussed BEFORE you get into the bedroom. You may not think to bring this up in the heat of the moment.

  • C = Collaborative

    Consent must be mutual. No matter how many folks are involved, everyone has to give their consent to what is going on. If one person doesn't agree, then it's a full-stop.

  • E = Enthusiastic

    If someone isn't excited about engaging in sexual behavior, it could be because they do not want to be doing it. So check in with your partner to see how they're doing. If they're not okay, you stop.

  • S = Sober

    Everyone involved should be free of the influence of drugs or alcohol.

    Drugs and alcohol affect everyone differently. One drink for one person can have a vastly different effect on another. When you add substances like alcohol to the sex equation, no matter what, your risk increases. It's best if you just take it out of the picture entirely.

    If someone is incapacitated, then they are definitely not able to consent.

Consent should be happening EVERY TIME you have sex. Like the BOG rule states - just because someone gave consent before doesn't imply consent for the present or future. And even if you're in a long-term relationship with someone, consent must still be given.

Still not 100% clear on consent? Here's a quick video to help:

Related Educational Resources

See similar informational materials.

Spectrum of Risk

Not all sexual activities carry the same level of risk. Understand the levels of risk associated with various activities.


Not everyone chooses to engage in sexual activity. Understand abstinence to decide if it is a right fit for you.


No matter how you choose to engage sexually, it is vital that healthy communication is taking place between partners.

Emergency Contraception

See what options exist for emergency contraception, and get the information you need to make a decision that works for you.