College life is a brand-new experience, from meeting new people, socialising and even new relationships. New relationships are very often exciting especially when both partners are on the same page and want the same thing.

At the same time, they can be confusing, especially when it comes to sex and consent. Sex is a whole new journey for many people starting college. 

It can often be hard to know what the other person wants when it comes to sex, especially in new relationships.

Some people may want to take it slow when it comes to intimacy, and it’s not easy to know where you stand with this all of the time because we are not mind readers. That is why it’s important to have a conversation.

Whether you are ‘hooking up’, or in a long-term relationship, it’s important to obtain the other persons permission, which means their consent.

Jump to:

What is Consent

Sexual consent is OMFG – Ongoing, Mutual and Freely Given.

Sexual consent is the voluntary agreement between both partners with equal power to engage in any sexual activity.

This agreement can be verbal or non-verbal but should be given freely by individuals capable of consenting, that is, who are over the legal age of consent and not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Consent should never be assumed – it should be a clear, ongoing and continuous process present in every new or repeated sexual encounter.

You need consent for ALL sexual activity.

How does Consent work

Many people worry that talking about consent will be awkward or a mood-killer, but this is not the case. If anything, when both of you can freely communicate what you do or do not want, it can create a more enjoyable experience.

Consent is the presence of an enthusiastic ‘yes’, not just the absence of a ‘no’. 

A couple talking


Chat about the kind of things that you are into, for example by saying: Tell me what you like? Talk about what terms like “hooking up” or “going further” mean to each of you.



Communications and consent can even become part of your foreplay, for example by saying things like: Are you comfortable? Is this ok? Does this feel good? Do you want to stop? Do you want to go further with this?

Couple talking


Pay attention if the person’s body language changes. Ask them if they want to continue and listen to their answers and always remember that consent is about more than avoiding abuse – it is having sex safer, healthier, and more pleasurable for everyone involved.

How to know if someone is not freely consenting

Male student graphic

If someone is not responding enthusiastically or clearly, they may be feeling coerced.

Check-in with them and if they seem happy not to continue STOP.

If someone is struggling or expressing any sort of discomfort (verbally or non-verbally), notice and STOP.

If the other person seems frozen or afraid, STOP.

If someone is asleep or falling asleep, STOP.

If someone is under the effects of drugs or alcohol and can no longer indicate their enjoyment and/or willingness, STOP.

If he or she is acting in any other way that suggests they are not up for sex, check it out and be prepared to STOP.


Some key facts to keep in mind

The legal age of consent in Ireland is 17 for people of every sexual orientation and gender.

Engaging in sexual activity of any kind without consent is extremely harmful to the person you are assaulting and is a criminal act.

Read the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 2017 on consent and a range of other sexual offences HERE

Female student graphic

Intimate Images

Consent applies to the sharing of intimate images.  It is needed for sexting, sending sexual material online, or making sexual comments or propositions.

The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020, also known as “Coco’s Law, created two new offences which criminalise the non-consensual distribution of intimate images and the taking, distribution or publication of intimate images without consent even if there is no specific intent to cause harm.

Watch the video about sharing intimate content online, or when considering sending a sext. 

A woman texting on her phone

Active* Consent Workshop

Active* Consent programmes are developed in NUIG by the Active* Consent team and involve various types of workshops and training.

The Active* Consent workshop gives students engaging and up-to-date information and skills that are practical and relevant for their own relationships. To find out more please email Grace McGee, the Mental Health & Wellbeing Project Officer at

“The Active* Consent programme supports young people like you to have positive and confident sexual health and wellbeing. We are a collaboration between Psychology and Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway. We like to use creative ways like interactive workshops, theatre, social media and online learning to equip young people like you with the tools to recognise and communicate about sexual consent.

Our workshops provide safe spaces to explore the nuances of sexual consent and how best to negotiate active sexual consent with your peers and within your own intimate relationships. We also carry out research with young adults to understand your needs and to further develop our resources and interventions. We stress that there is no active participation required from students. The only time you will be asked an opinion, is to vote electronically on two statements and to evaluate the workshop, both anonymously via ”


Bystander Intervention

The Bystander Intervention team at UCC has developed a new 15 minute “quick guide” to being an effective bystander.

Bystander intervention

'Start Here' Campaign

What would you do if a friend told you about a negative sexual experience? Don’t know what to do? Start here.

Developed by NUIG Active Consent, USI and Galway Rape Crisis Centre.

Start here campaign on consent

Sexual Consent Videos

Consent is about asking and listening to the answer. 

How do you know if someone wants to have sex with you?

Tea Consent

Framework for Consent

IT Sligo is committed to the development of an institutional campus culture which is safe, respectful and supportive. We are actively working to implement the Framework for Consent in HEIs: Safe, Respectful, Supportive and Positive: Ending Sexual Harassment in Irish Higher Education Institutions, and the THEA PROPEL Report; Promoting Consent and Preventing Sexual Violence for Higher Education Institutions

Speak Out

Speak Out is an online space to anonymous speak out against misconduct that students/staff have experienced or witnessed. The reporting tool provides an opportunity for students/staff to anonymously report incidents of:

  • bullying
  • cyberbullying
  • harassment
  • discrimination
  • hate crimes
  • coercive behaviour/control, stalking
  • assault
  • sexual harassment
  • sexual assault and
  • rape that students/staff have experienced

The tool will help you to find relevant supports and highlight formal reporting procedures, should you wish to use them.

Support Services

Support Services

IT Sligo Student Health Service

Tel: 071-9305205/071-9305463



IT Sligo Counselling Service



IT Sligo Students Union 

Tel: 07 1 91 41887 E:  Web:  IT Sligo Students’ Union (

Sligo Leitrim Rape Crisis Centre  Tel: 071 917 1188 Web:

Donegal Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) –Tel:1800 44 88 44 / 074 912 8211

Domestic Violence Advocacy Service (DVAS) Sligo, Leitrim and West Cavan  Tel: 071 914 1515

Sligo Garda Station Tel: 071 91 57000

Rape Crisis Centre – National 24-Hour Helpline 1800 77 8888

A free and confidential listening and support service for anyone who has been raped, sexually assaulted, sexually harassed or sexually abused at any time in their lives.

TEXT Crisis Textline Ireland: Free-text ITSligo to 50808   

 A free, anonymous, 24/7 messaging service providing everything from a calming chat to immediate support.

The Samaritans: 116 123                                                                                                                  

Provides emotional support, to anyone in distress or struggling to cope.

Pieta House: 1800 247 247 or Text HELP to 51444                                           

Provides a free therapeutic approach to people who are experiencing suicidal ideation, engaging in self-harm, or have been bereaved by suicide.

IT Sligo is committed to the promotion of positive sexual experiences and there will be opportunities and campaigns during the academic year for you to learn more about Active* Consent and positive sexual health and well-being. See more on our website. Information is taken from; the Rape Crisis Centre, SPUNOUT