Gov. Brown passes “Yes Means Yes” bill for affirmative consent

With a stroke of a pen, Gov. Jerry Brown added the “Yes Means Yes” bill to his list of major changes for the state. The bill requires an “affirmative consent” amidst any sexual context.

Senate Bill 967 (de León) mandates that intimate language is standardized in policies used to decide if the accused had committed rape, domestic violence or stalking on college campuses.

“It’s very difficult to say no when you’re inebriated or someone slips something into your drink,” said Sen. Kevin de León in an online article in the Huffington Post.

The Yes-Means-Yes legislation requires California colleges which are receiving financial aid to use an affirmative consent standard in determining sexual assault cases.

Each person who is engaged in sexual activity on a college campus must have permission from the other person involved.

Ongoing-clear consent includes gestures and nonverbal cues that must be given throughout the sexual encounter.

However, permission can be revoked at anytime.

The senator is adamant about fostering a college climate that is healthy and safe for students across the country.

With the implementation of Yes Means Yes, California leads the nation by establishing standards and protocols that can create an environment “that’s conducive for all students, not just for women, but for young men as well too, so young men can develop healthy patterns and boundaries as they [engage] with the opposite sex,” de León said.

Critics insist that the yes-means-yes legislation will create a climate of fear and state-mandated dirty talk on college campuses, according to an online article by Liberty Unyielding.

Hans Bader, a senior attorney at Competitive Enterprise Institute, argues that Yes Means Yes is misleading and does not define sexual activity.

Some colleges’ definition of sexual activity includes a little more than sex and penetration, while other colleges classify kissing as sexual activity that can be construed as sexual assault.

Bader had written that “dating and people’s romantic lives are protected against unwarranted government interference by Constitutional privacy rights, and the freedom of intimate association.”

“It should be an obvious consent,” said David Hernandez, 19, an undeclared major. “There’s always going to be problems when trying to help. Overall, protecting should be the main goal, those that have been the victims.”

Yes Means Yes also mandates that colleges enter into agreements or partnerships with existing campus and community-based organizations, like rape crisis centers, where accusers may seek refuge or offer resources for the accused and services such as counseling, health, victim advocacy and legal assistance to students.

Campus staff who investigate and adjudicate cases dealing with sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, must complete a comprehensive, trauma-based training program, too.

The Los Rios Community College District’s Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act Report for 2015 shows there was one forced sexual assault in 2012 at CRC and two per year from 2013 to 2014.

The report also shows there were two non-forced sexual assaults (statutory rapes) in 2014 but none in 2012 or 2013. Five domestic violence offenses happened in 2013 and one in 2014. There was one dating violation in 2014 and one stalking violation in 2013 and 2014.   

“Basically, it’s the same thing. Right?” said Rachel Thompson, 18, an undeclared major. “Yes Means Yes. No means no.”