Over this past weekend, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill now turned law, making California the first state in the nation to give a clear definition of when people actually agree to sex.
This law is a good step in the direction of a new approach being adopted by many colleges to require mutual “affirmative consent” before any sexual contact. The law states, “A lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.” This law is the first of its kind to define when “yes means yes.”
Many advocates are pleased with the new law and the affirmative consent policies being introduced to campuses. However, some are skeptical about whether or not it will work better than other methods.
Several colleges and universities such as the University of Texas, Yale, and many campuses in New York currently have a version of affirmative consent policies.
Many of these policies have been adopted in just this past year. But normally, most schools instruct students to rely on instinct when entering into uncertain situations, and to let school officials know when a sexual attack occurs. Despite those tips, most sexual assaults go unreported and when they are reported; it’s difficult to determine the line between refusal and consent.
According to data gathered from various campuses across the U.S., less than one-third of campus sexual assaults result in expulsion. Demands for the assaulter to be expelled for sexual assault is often a long and tedious process that only prolongs the victim’s suffering and increases embarrassment. Therefore it isn’t a surprise that many assaults go unreported.
As of late, however, it seems like the epidemic of on campus sexual assaults is becoming more noticed as a real and serious problem. Earlier this year, a White House task force recommended that schools conduct their own “on campus climate surveys,” including questions about sexual assault.
The hope is that these surveys will help determine the extent of the issue and attempt to find solutions. Currently much is still unknown in the territory of campus sexual assault policy that hopefully will be unearthed in the future and can lead to better ways of handling such situations when the arise.