By Shelby Willard
Declining gas prices aren’t the only new thing that students are noticing around California campuses with the start of the new year. California Senate Bill 967 is affecting colleges across the state. Signed into effect by Governor Jerry Brown on Sept. 29, 2014, the law is a huge win for advocates against sexual assault across the state.
SB 967 is the first of its kind to be enacted by any state. The bill, otherwise known as “Yes Means Yes,” addresses the issue of student assault throughout both public and private colleges. The bill is changing the definition of consent to engage in sexual activity. The bill requires “an affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. [“] Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent.”
This will not only change the way judicial affairs offices gauge the issue of college rape, but also it will change the way assault cases are handled in courts.
According to an article published in the Los Angeles Times, “the CSU and UC systems supported the legislation after adopting similar consent standards last year.”
There is no doubt in my mind that sexual assault is a serious thing for many college students. However, is this bill the way to end it? In my opinion, the bill overreaches and presses into the personal lives of students.
The logistics of the bill are loosely based. It is unclear whether this bill will actually affect sexual relationships between two consenting partners on a college campus or even in the outside world.
The bill explains that “consent must be voluntary, and given without coercion, force, threats or intimidation. Consent requires positive cooperation in a particular sexual act, or expression of intent to engage in that sexual act through the exercise of free will.”
How can one ensure that consent was given during the sexual encounter? A simple head nod? Returning the “look”?
Isn’t it just one person’s words used against another person’s? This brings us back to the original situation that many of the colleges have been forced to clarify by establishing and enforcing their own standards.
In addition, SB 967 may enable more men and women to cry rape as an excuse for their poor decisions. Rather than accepting the sometimes embarrassing and painfully awkward realization that your hook-up without consent wasn’t exactly the most glamorous thing of your life, someone can turn around and later use the law to claim that it was assault.
Is this bill really solving the issue that is at hand? Although I understand the bill’s motives, I begin to wonder whether this is an attempt of a government overreach and whether it could lead to even more problems for California.
Either way, let this be a warning for all. Yes means Yes.
Sungah Choi / The Poly Post
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