SACRAMENTO (AP) — The state Senate on Thursday approved legislation requiring California colleges and universities to adopt anti-sexual assault policies that include a written standard for personal consent, a move that came as schools across the country are being urged to take tougher actions to curb the growing problem.
Lawmakers passed SB967 by Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, on a 27-9 vote. The bill moves to the Assembly.
SB967 requires colleges that receive state-funded student aid, including the University of California, California State University and community college systems, to tackle campus sexual violence.
Their policies must include an affirmative consent standard, which is defined as “an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision” by each party to engage in sexual activity. It also requires consent to be ongoing throughout a sexual activity.
De Leon said the goal is to educate students as a way to prevent future assaults while informing them about their rights.
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, recalled the deadly rampage in her district nearly a week ago when 22-year-old Elliot Rodger stabbed and shot six people to death before taking his own life. The killings stirred a public debate about sexual attitudes toward women because Rodger had expressed hostility toward females, feeling they had rejected him.
Jackson said too many colleges continue to overlook sexual violence, when one in five women will be sexually assaulted on campus.
“I know this bill would not likely have affected the tragedy of last weekend, but to dismiss the poisonous culture of misogyny that clearly persists in our society and in our colleges and universities today would be a tragedy,” Jackson said.
Nine Republicans voted against the bill but no senators spoke against it before the vote.
The bill is supported by groups against domestic violence and some student groups, including the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault and University of California Student Association.
It was opposed by the National Coalition for Men and a group called Stop Abusive and Violent Relationships.
The bill’s analysis says federal statues already require colleges to disclose information about sexual crimes, establish rights for victims of sexual assault and offer prevention and awareness programs.
In January, President Barack Obama vowed to make the issue a priority. He announced a task force that created a website providing tips for filing complaints, www.notalone.gov , and earlier this month issued a report naming 55 colleges and universities across the country facing investigation for their responses to sexual abuse and violence. The University of California, Berkeley was included on the list.
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