If this study is anything to go by, we seriously need to have a long, hard look at the issue of consent in Ireland.
Shockingly, an NUI Galway study found that the majority of third-level students do not think 28 standard drinks makes a person too intoxicated to give sexual consent.
The researchers gave 753 online participates two different scenarios which involved drink and being able to give consent to do the deed.
So here's how the survey worked:
The online respondents were given the same story of two students of Neil and Carol.
They go home together after a night out on the town to celebrate exam results.
However, those who completed the survey were split into two groups: one was given a "moderate" drinking level and the other was a "heavy" drinking consumption.
For clarity's sake as our opinion will majorly vary on what "moderate" and "heavy" consumption of alcohol is – we will called in the experts.
Drinkaware.ie states that 28 standard units adds up to around 12 pints of beer at four percent alcohol or 700ml of spirits at 40 percent.
Carol and Neil's story starts off with them bumping into each other at a night club where they're both celebrating exam results from their college course.
"By midnight Neil had had the equivalent of about 5 (10) pints of beer, when he bumped into Carol, also 21, who is in one of his classes at college. She had also been out celebrating with her friends since the early afternoon.
“She had been drinking vodka (the equivalent of 4 pints (8 pints) of beer altogether). They started talking at the bar. Neil bought Carol a drink."
It continues with Neil knowing that Carol lives in the same student accommodation, so offers to share a taxi with Carol at the end of the night.
In the club, things begin to heat-up between the pair.
"Neil started kissing Carol and touching her. She moved his hands lower on her body."
The story finished with: “They took a break and had one more drink (three rounds of drinks) before the nightclub ended. In the taxi on the way home at 3 am Carol closed her eyes and dozed off for a few minutes. When they got to Carol’s apartment, Neil woke Carol up and they went into his flat. He made her tea and put on some music. They were having a good time laughing and joking together.
“He took out a bottle of whiskey and they each had one shot (a few generous shots). Both at this stage were a bit unsteady (and slurring their words), they talked for another while and shared a bottle of Coke (Neil spilled the tea all over the table and Carol nearly fell off her chair getting up to go to the bathroom). Then they went to his couch and started kissing again.
“Soon they had each removed their clothes. Through his actions, Neil made it clear he wanted to have sex with Carol. She asked him to put on a condom first. He did so and they had sex,” it concluded.
The results have somewhat floored us.
Twenty percent of respondents in the moderate drinking group "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that Carol was too drunk to give her consent to sex, while 14 percent thought Neil was too drunk to give his.
In comparison, to the heavy drinking participates, 33 percent thought Carol was too drunk and 30 percent thought Neil was too.
Furthermore, in their evaluation of the results, the report said: “Even when 28 standard drinks were consumed, 67 percent of students did not agree that Carol was too drunk to give consent, and 70 percent of students did not see Neil as unable to give consent.”
The study also highlighted that student's opinions, more often than not, didn't differentiate between "moderate" and "heavy" in alcohol intake, despite the stories varying.
"These findings suggest that it is urgent to achieve enhanced awareness among young adults in college of the impact of drinking on the capacity to give consent," said the report.
Dr Pádraig MacNeela at NUI Galway said in relation to the results:
“The survey findings show that the social environment in which consent takes place among college students is often unsupportive – most women experience harassment, a large majority of all students are dissatisfied with their sexual health education at school, and social norms for drinking minimise the true impact of alcohol on the capacity to give consent.”
The study was conducted as part of a SMART consent research report which is run in NUI Galway.
If you want more information surrounding the work they do and consent, please click here.
The report was published on Tuesday by Minister of State for Education and Skills, Mary Mitchell O’Connor.
Sexual consent has been a hot topic in Ireland over the last year and this study has given us a lot to mull over.
It's crucial that you arm yourself with the right information surrounding what is consensual and what isn't.
Remember: Safe, protected and consensual sex is always the sexiest.