California adopts first ‘yes means yes’ sex assault law. Does it go too far?

Sep 30, 2014 by

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a law making California the first state in nation to legally spell out that “yes means yes” when it comes to sexual consent – with requirements for colleges to follow when investigating sexual assaults.

The measure – which goes further than the commonly accepted “no means no” – will apply to all colleges and universities that accept state funding.

The new law outlines procedures for giving campus sexual assault victims confidential support and requires comprehensive prevention strategies to address sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. It also states that consent cannot be given if someone is asleep or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.

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“Every student deserves a learning environment that is safe and healthy,” said the bill’s author, state Sen. Kevin de Leon, in a statement. “The state of California will not allow schools to sweep rape cases under the rug. We’ve shifted the conversation regarding sexual assault to one of prevention, justice, and healing.”

The measure is seen as possibly a pivotal moment that could alter how campuses across America deal with the issue of rape and sexual violence. Critics, however, said that the law overreaches itself and that consent will be difficult to prove in court.

The law comes after institutions of higher learning have come in for severe criticism for their handling of sexual violence on campus. Earlier this year, the Education Department announced that it was investigating 55 colleges and institutions for Title IX violations that stem from their handling of sexual assault cases. And this month, the White House launched a high-profile campaign, “It’s On Us,” aimed at changing attitudes on campus. But no state has gone further than California.

“This is amazing,” Savannah Badalich, a student at UCLA and founder of the group 7,000 in Solidarity, told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s going to educate an entire new generation of students on what consent is and what consent is not … that the absence of a ‘no’ is not a ‘yes.’”

One in 5 US women report being raped, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, with 40 percent of those attacks occurring during college.

via California adopts first ‘yes means yes’ sex assault law. Does it go too far? – CSMonitor.com.

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