The California Senate unanimously sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill Thursday that would require California colleges to adopt rape-prevention policies that include a standard of affirmative consent for sexual activity.
The measure, Senate Bill 967 bill by Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, was inspired by a number of assaults on college campuses in recent years and frustration by victims who said they didn’t get sufficient support from college authorities. It requires the college sexual assault policies to mandate a standard of “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” from both parties in a sexual encounter, according to an analysis of the bill. The measure drew some opposition in the Assembly earlier this week as a form of “nanny government” but sailed through the Senate on its final vote, drawing bipartisan support.
“As the father of a young college-age daughter, I was stunned, I was quite surprised when I read the statistic that 20 percent of young women have been sexually assaulted on a college campus,” said de León, the incoming Senate leader.
“These are our daughters, they are our sisters, they are our nieces.”
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Aryle Butler, a senior majoring in geography at UC Berkeley who visited Sacramento in June to speak in favor of the bill, said she was proud of California for being the first state to adopt the affirmative consent standard.
“It’s an excellent preventative tool,” she said, because the “yes means yes” message removes any ambiguity about consent.
Butler herself said she was sexually assaulted in 2012. In February, she joined a federal complaint against Berkeley alleging that the university’s failure to adequately investigate cases of sexual violence has created a hostile environment for women.
“Universities need to start taking these complaints seriously,” she said. SB 967 is “one small step in a series of larger steps that needs to be taken,” including better education about consent and punishment for perpetrators.