california governor jerry brown will sign a bill to define when 'yes means yes,' and adopt requirements for colleges to follow when investigating sexual assault reports. the historic announcement on sunday makes california the first state in the nation to unequivocally protect students by changing the language and law of consent.
state lawmakers approved senate bill 967 by senator kevin de leon (d-la) last month, as states and universities across the country are under pressure to change how they handle rape allegations. campus sexual assault victims and women's advocacy groups delivered petitions to brown's office on september 16 demanding he sign the bill.
de leon said the progressive legislation begins a paradigm shift in how college campuses in california prevent and investigate sexual assaults. the familiar refrain of 'no means no,' is no longer the definition of consent - the new bill requires "an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity."
"every student deserves a learning environment that is safe and healthy," de leon said in a statement sunday night. "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," he said.
lawmakers say consent can be nonverbal, and universities with similar policies have outlined examples as a nod of the head or moving in closer to the person. the legislation says silence or lack of resistance does not constitute consent: someone who is asleep, drugged, drunk or unconscious cannot grant consent.
advocates for victims of sexual assault support the change as empowering. savannah badalich, ucla student and founder of the group 7000 in solidarity, welcomes the new legislation. badalich said, "this is amazing. 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."
the bill requires training for faculty reviewing complaints so victims are neither asked insensitive questions nor made to feel shameful when filing grievances. the bill also provides much needed access to counseling, health care and other resources.
sb 967 applies to all california postsecondary schools - public and private - receiving state money for student financial aid. the california state university and university of california systems are supporting the legislation; both adopted similar consent standards this year.
uc president janet napolitano recently announced the system will voluntarily establish an independent advocate to support sexual assault victims on every campus. an advocate office is a provision of the federal survivor outreach and support campus act proposed by u.s. senator barbara boxer and representative susan davis of san diego, both democrats.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.