“Only Yes Means Yes” by Ry Rivard

A bill in California is aimed at shifting the cultural attitude surrounding consent on college campuses. Victims rights advocates back this bill, which hopes to shift the burden of proof away from rape survivors. This is an excerpt from a recent article published by Insider Higher Ed. The source of this excerpt is http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/06/09/california-lawmakers-would-require-students-get-yes-sex#ixzz34A5aXtjw%20Inside%20Higher%20Ed

image courtesy of wikipedia

image courtesy of wikipedia

A bill that’s passed the California Senate with the backing of a powerful lawmaker would require many of California’s 2.3 million college students to make sure they have a “yes” — not just not a “no” — before they have sex.

The proposal would shift the burden of proof in campus sexual assault cases in which the accused cites consent as the defense to those accused, rather than those making the allegations.

California’s public colleges and most of the private colleges would be required to adopt a sexual assault policy that mandates students receive “affirmative consent” from those with whom they seek to have sex or any sexual activity.

Specifically, the bill would require “an affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.”


That is a good thing, say victims’ rights advocates. Female college students who make allegations are too often asked by college officials to account for their own actions, including what they were wearing and whether they tried hard enough to stop a sexual encounter.


The bill would not affect how sexual assault cases are handled by the courts, only by college officials; many sexual assault allegations are only made to colleges and not to court systems.

“Obviously, there is a problem,” De León said in a recent statement. “[Senate Bill] 967 will change the equation so the system is not stacked against survivors by establishing an affirmative consent policy to make it clear that only ‘yes’ means ‘yes.’ ”


Denice Labertew, the director of advocacy services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said that shift was a good one. She said the bill would remove the “victim blame” to which those alleging sexual assault are often subjected. The bill also creates a “clearer standard” because instead of the alleged victim being required to prove they didn’t want to engage in sexual activity, the alleged perpetrator would be required to prove his partner did want to.

“The survivors [of sexual assault] are going to be positively affected because they are going to be going into a system that no longer asks them why they didn’t do something,” Labertew said.

This is a significantly shortened excerpt. To read the full article, please visit the Inside Higher Ed website http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/06/09/california-lawmakers-would-require-students-get-yes-sex#ixzz34A5aXtjw%20Inside%20Higher%20Ed

Ry Rivard is a reporter for Inside Higher Ed.