There’s a lot to be excited about as a first-year student at UBC: the beautiful campus, inspiring professors and an array of course offerings, to name a few. But for many students, what’s most exciting about university is the opportunity to form new relationships — both platonic and sexual.

Exploring your sexuality is an experience which can be as fun as it is liberating, however, it’s import- ant to remember that sex is never entirely carefree. Whether you’re in bed with your partner of two years, or some random person from Tinder, it’s your responsibility to ensure that every sexual encounter you have is enthusiastically consensual.

What does consent look like?

Obviously, this question doesn’t have a clear and concise answer, but what’s most important is the word mentioned above: enthusiasm. Although you should always get verbal confirmation before engaging in a new type of sexual activity (‘Is this okay?’ or ‘Can I…’), receiving a verbal confirmation is not the be-all and end-all of consent. If you notice that your sexual partner has become still or quiet, it’s time to check in with them to ensure they’re still comfortable with whatever activity you’re engaging in. Consent can be withdrawn at any time, so one ‘yes’ is not an irrevocable greenlight.

Consent is never implied

Rape culture has instilled the idea that consent can be expressed in ways other than explicitly saying ‘yes.’ However, this is false. If a person wears revealing clothing, is flirtatious or is known to have had many sexual partners, that doesn’t mean they are always down to have sex. Additionally, the idea that mascuine-presenting people are hypersexual, and therefore will never turn down sex, is pure myth. Regardless of gender, consent is never implied — you always need to obtain verbal and physical confirmation.

Coercion is not consent

Persuading, begging or guilting an individual into saying ‘yes’ to sex is not consent. If ‘no’ is their original answer, it should be their final answer.

Drinking and consent

Although it’s possible to consent while under the influence, you have to be careful. There’s no magic number of drinks that determines when a person is too intoxicated to have sex, so you need to be incredibly conscious of you partners behaviour. Are they slurring? Stumbling? Do they seem confused, sleepy or sick? If the answer to a single one of these questions is ‘yes,’ it’s best to just wait for another time, even if they’ve expressed interest in having sex.

Do what's best for you!

Lastly, keep in mind that everyone has a different relationship with sex. For some people, feeling sexually liberated involves non-commital hookups, while others feel more secure reserving sex for monogamous relationships — both are totally okay! You should never feel pressured to make your sex life look a certain way. What’s important is that both you and your sexual partners feel safe and comfortable, 100 per cent of the time.