California Spells Out When 'Yes Means Yes'

Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill about sexual consent
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2014 7:49 AM CDT
California Spells Out When 'Yes Means Yes'
In this Sept. 4, 2014, file photo, Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a gubernatorial debate in Sacramento, Calif.    (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)

A busy weekend for California Gov. Jerry Brown culminated in several signed bills designed to assist students across his state. Chief among the legislation is SB-967, which seeks to combat sexual assault on campus by flipping the traditional "no means no" mantra on its head: Colleges and universities will now need to "adopt a standard of clear consent" when it comes to students' sexual activity, the Los Angeles Times reports. It's the first state to impose such a mandate. To prevent perpetrators from claiming they never heard a definite "no" from their victims, the bill now calls for an "affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity."

The legislation is meant to protect individuals who are drunk, drugged, asleep, or unconscious, the AP reports; it notes consent can be nonverbal (ie, a nod of the head). The bill adds that colleges and universities have to come up with a blueprint to help sexual assault victims, make counseling and health services available, and better train faculty who review such cases. "This is amazing," says a UCLA student. "It's going to educate an entire new generation of students on what consent is and what consent is not ... that the absence of a 'no' is not a 'yes.'" Also signed by Brown over the weekend: a bill that offers college loans to students in the US illegally, and a bill that will ask voters whether to repeal parts of a 1998 law that mandate school instruction be in English. (Some people aren't happy with the way Florida State has handled its sexual assault cases.)

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