By Tyler Kingkade at The Huffington Post
University of California President Janet Napolitano announced Monday she’s putting her support behind legislation to require colleges in her state to adopt affirmative consent standards.
The bill, proposed by state Sen. Kevin de León (D), would require higher education institutions receiving state funding to use affirmative consent, or “only yes means yes,” in determining whether a sexual assault took place.
The California State University system has also taken a position in support of De León’s bill, CSU spokesman Michael Uhlenkamp told The Huffington Post on Monday.
The proposed consent standard would further stipulate an existing relationship, intoxication and confusion could not be used as a reason for why a student did not obtain consent, and that consent can be revoked at any time.
If enacted, it would be the first state-mandated consent standard for colleges.
“The University of California has no tolerance for any form of sexual violence or harassment, and all 10 of our campus chancellors and I have taken a number of actions to ensure the safety of our students,” Napolitano said in a statement. “As we continue to move ahead with our efforts, we welcome Senator De León’s legislation.”
De León’s legislation would make clear that a student cannot consent if they are asleep or unconscious, incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol, or unable to communicate due to a mental or physical condition. The bill would also require schools to enter into memorandums of understanding, or detailed plans on how each sexual assault case will proceed, with community mental health and rape crisis service providers. And colleges would be required to adopt “victim-centered sexual assault response policies and protocols,” such as privacy protections and interview standards.
The legislation passed the state Senate in May and is expected to be voted on by the California State Assembly this week. It faces opposition from men’s rights groups online and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which claim the bill is unfair toward the accused.
However, the UC system already has affirmative consent in place in its newly revamped sexual assault policy.
The California State University and the University of California student associations also back the bill.
Napolitano already put her support behind a bill in the U.S. Senate that would create a survivor advocate on each campus.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the State University of New York and several colleges in Connecticut put their support behind another U.S. Senate legislation package that proposes sweeping reforms in how schools address sexual assault.
UPDATE, Aug. 26: The legislation passed 57 – 20 in a California Assembly floor vote on Monday.