California will become the first state to require colleges and universities to set a standard of “affirmative consent” for sexual activity, if a bill passed Thursday is signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown (D).
The mantra for rape prevention on college campuses used to be “no means no.” But prevention advocates have been pushing for a shift to “yes means yes.”
It’s about “making it clear that the responsibility for sexual violence should be placed on the perpetrator … and people should have the right to be free from sexual impositions,” says Laura Dunn, a campus rape survivor and legal advocate through the group SurvJustice.
In too many situations, victims have a hard time convincing campus judicial boards that they were raped because they are expected to show they physically or verbally resisted, advocates say. In other cases, they run up against the idea that consent can be implied if it’s been given in the past, to a dating partner, for instance.
The California law would clarify that consent can never be assumed.