A Message from President Reimler

On Oct. 14, 2017, the Students United Board, represented by each of the seven Minnesota State campuses, decided to begin advocating for affirmative consent language. So what exactly is affirmative consent?

Affirmative consent is generally defined as “an informed, freely, and affirmatively communicated willingness to participate in sexual activity that is expressed by clear and unambiguous words or actions.” In this context, “consent” can only be interpreted as an explicit agreement to a sexual activity. Or to put it another way, when it comes to sex, only yes means yes—it really is that simple.

The effort to adopt affirmative consent brought together students from each of the campuses and was a demonstration of our strength when we work together. In a few short months, we convinced the Board of Trustees of Minnesota State just how important this effort was to students. In fact, on Wednesday, Feb. 21, the Board of Trustees officially adopted affirmative consent language.

Minnesota State schools now join over 40 campuses across the country that have affirmative consent policies, including the University of Minnesota. And while we need to continue to combat sexual assault on our campuses, this is a massive step in the right direction. This step, however, would not have been possible without student advocacy.

Our Students United officers and campus leaders worked tirelessly to communicate the importance of affirmative consent. Each of the seven Minnesota State campuses, in fact, unanimously passed motions in their Student Senates supporting affirmative consent. I’d also proudly note that Winona State University was the first of the seven campuses to pass a motion in support. It’s because of this hard work that the Board of Trustees affirmed our commitment to combat sexual assault and violence.

Nonetheless, while we have much to be proud of, this is only the beginning. As a campus community, we now need to band together to have a conversation about what comes next in combating this problem. Collectively, we each need to realize the power of our individual platforms to call out inappropriate sexual behavior and assault. We each have a voice and a stake in ensuring that Winona State University continues to lead the way on this issue. Just remember, only yes means yes.

Benjamin Reimler
President | Winona State University Student Senate