Prepare Your Graduates for College by Discussing Respect and Consent

I am soliciting your help in decreasing my workload and that of my other Title IX colleagues. We investigate claims of discrimination on campus. Sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence and stalking are all forms of gender discrimination.  If you are the parent, aunt, uncle or cousin of a high school graduate on the way to college PLEASE have an honest conversation with them about respect for all people and consent regarding sex.

College is a great place to meet new people and expand your experiences.  However, without a respect for people with different views and opinions  it can lead to consequences including the College asking your graduate to leave the community. College is not high school and if you violate established community standards you can be suspended (required to leave school for a specified period of time) or expuled (required to leave permanently).

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The current political climate in our country coupled with the increase in the use of social media has led to more awareness of incidents of disrespect. College communities are built valuing the views and opinions of people from different backgrounds. Just like your family has rules other families may have had different rules. That doesn’t mean that one is right and one is wrong, but rather they are just different. Without respect tolerance suffers. College students will be required to abide by set rules that need to be read and understood because violation of these rules often leads to suspension or expulsion.

What can you do? Remind your college student that you do not have to agree with the LGBQT lifestyle or participate in it to be respectful of those who are members of the community. Do not make insulting comments towards others just because they have a lifestyle different from yours. The same is true regarding religion. Just because you call your God by a different name than my God, or you may not believe in any God does not make you wrong and me right, it makes us different. And if you truly believe in any God are you not supposed to refrain from judgment?

The biggest lack of respect on campus I find is still shown towards women. For 18 to 19 years, members of the Class of 2018 have listened to songs that have referred to women using derogatory language. These same graduates have watched reality television featuring women fighting each other, often over men, and watched them disrespect each other subliminally making this behavior “acceptable.” They have seen women who have spoken out in the #metoo movement attacked and accused of bringing abuse on themselves. They have played video games that reward illegal and discriminatory behavior and have a hard time separating the games from real life.

I’m a mom and I get it. It’s hard to monitor every show your children watch, music they listen to and to follow up with conversations that create teachable moments because you are working to pay the bills for the cell phone, cable television and sports activities. However, it is not too late to have those conversations and the discussions may be the difference in your child becoming a sophomore in 2019 or coming back home to live with you.


Many instances of sexual misconduct involve alcohol and/or drugs. Many charged with sexual misconduct say they received consent from the other party. Your child must understand some important things about consent:

  • Consent to one sexual act IS NOT automatically consent to any other sexual act;
  • Consent to a sexual act on Monday IS NOT automatically consent to the same sexual act on Friday;
  • Consent IS NOT automatic because two people are in a romantic relationship;
  • Consent to one person DOES NOT constitute consent to other persons; AND
  • Consent is NOT POSSIBLE if the person supposedly consenting is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, unconscious OR has been threatened if they do not comply.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE talk with your graduates before you leave them on a college campus. Make sure they are prepared to make good decisions starting with Respect and Consent.  Your conversation may make the difference in your student becoming a  sophomore in 2019 and not a former college student.

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