On Thursday the California Senate unanimously passed SB 967, also known as “Student Safety: Sexual Assault.” The bill is now headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for signature.
The bill states in order to receive state funds for student financial assistance, such as the Cal Grant, colleges and universities in the state of California must adopt the policy related to sexual assault investigations. According to the bill, there will be “an affirmative consent standard in the determination of whether consent was given by both parties to sexual activity.” This means that each party must consent to sexual activity and lack of protest or silence does not mean consent. The bill also says that it is not consent if the person is intoxicated, drugged, unconscious or sleeping. When investigating sexual assaults, only “yes means yes” will be considered consent.
Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) explains his bill would create uniformity in the way college campuses investigate and provide services to victims of sexual assault. He argues, “we need to have a cultural shift across institutions of higher education to take these crimes very seriously.” The federal government is currently investigating 76 colleges and universities for possible violations of Title IX.
Supporting the Bill, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) said, “this bill is needed and makes a strong statement that California does not tolerate rape and sexual violence.” Currently five California colleges are under investigation for Title IX violations, including UC Berkeley, UCLA and USC.
The National Institute of Justice has found that 19 percent of women in college have reported “experiencing completed or attempted sexual assault since entering college.” De Leon has said sexual assaults are far too common on college and university campus and it needs to change. He also said he brought this bill forth because “administrators are either under-reporting or not reporting at all” the sexual assaults on their campuses.
The bill requires colleges and universities to adopt “detailed and victim-centered policies and protocols.” The policy will provide protections for the privacy of individuals involved. In addition, the goal of this bill is to ensure that every college student have the opportunity to succeed in college and not have their college career impeded because of a sexual assault.