Chapman Students Refuse to Consent by Phone

Photo by Pixabay, Woman on her phone.


Students object to signing contracts for sex.


The ongoing #MeToo movement and sexual assault allegations like those imposed on comedy actor Aziz Ansari, and the recent verdict on Bill Cosby are raising questions as to how consent should be obtained.


Soon-to-be-released smartphone consent apps, such as LegalFling, offer legally binding agreements between sexual partners at the press of a button. If the question of whether there was consent is posed in court or during a school’s investigation, these apps could be used as proof where verbal agreements can’t.


While they may serve a purpose for some, it’s doubtful that Chapman students will use these applications. They find them too formal, disruptive, and the last thing they are likely to think about when love – or lust – is in the air.


“I feel like I wouldn’t be taking the time to be on my phone and give consent rather than just saying it verbally,” said Clarissa Cordova, a sophomore health science major.  


Since 2014, California law has required that universities have an “affirmative consent” policy. It obligates students to have one another’s consent to proceed at every moment of any sexual experience. Even if no objections are made by participants during the act, their consent cannot be assumed.


To put affirmative consent into practice people have been asking each other whether something is okay every time it happens.


The new consent apps intend to head off baseless allegations by proving consent was obtained prior to intimate relations, and to prompt conversations around the rules of engagement.  


29 of the 92 students who reported nonconsensual sexual contact to Chapman’s Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Climate Survey conducted last spring, reported that “a lack of proof that the incident happened” was a concern that crossed their mind when deciding whether to share or report the incident.  


A graphic from the Legalfling website describing their up and coming app.


There are indeed some scenarios where consent isn’t asked for verbally.


“I do actually pose the question, ‘do you want to engage in this activity?’ but when it’s somebody that I’ve been with many times it’s obviously kind of different,” said senior film production major Nolan Kresnak.


In established relationships with reoccurring sexual activity, consent is often assumed unless someone objects, according to Kresnak.


If consent isn’t already being established through short, two-sentence exchanges, how can students be expected to open an app, select their partner, choose what acts they are okay with and await confirmation?


Other negative aspects of the system are less inconvenient than they are off-putting.


“I don’t think that technology should have to be a part of consent and sexual intercourse. I don’t think you should have to whip out your phone in the middle of things,” said Kellyn Toole, a junior strategic and corporate communications major.


Regardless of their potential, consent apps don’t sit well with students.


“I don’t think I would ever get that app,” Toole said.

Julien Khvang

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