Annie Teriba, activist and delegate of Oxford University’s student union to the National Union of Students (NUS), has announced she will resign from political campaigning.
The announcement comes with an admission that Teriba engaged in non-consensual sex at this year’s NUS Black Students’ Conference. What is meant by “non-consensual” sex is that Teriba failed to adhere to the precept of affirmative consent.
In her own words:
At this year’s NUS Black Students’ Conference, I had sex with someone. The other party later informed me that the sex was not consensual. I failed to properly establish consent before every act. I apologise sincerely and profoundly for my actions. I should have taken sufficient steps to ensure that everything I did was consensual. I should have been more attentive to the person’s body language. In failing to clarify that the person consented to our entire encounter, I have caused serious irreparable harm.
The problem with affirmative consent, as prescribed by the Oxford University Student Union (OUSU), is that it allows for otherwise consensual sex to be redefined as sexual violence.
If someone groped you on a bus, if someone pressured you into taking a hook-up further than you wanted to, if someone made you touch them, if someone had sex with you when you didn’t say yes, that’s sexual violence [emphasis added].
If the standard for consensual sex is the presence of a verbal “yes,” then Teriba along with countless of her fellow students would be in serious trouble right now. Fortunately, nobody outside the bubble of academia is obligated to take their interpretation of consent seriously.
Oxford students remain free to rewrite the dictionary. But as some will find out, it’s a bitter diet having to eat your own words.