Highlighting the need for a culture change, Sen. Kevin de Leόn and Legislative Women’s Caucus chairwoman and vice chairwoman, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, announced Senate Bill 967, which will require California colleges and universities to address campus sexual violence by requiring them to adopt consistent victim-centered sexual assault response policies and protocols that follow best practices and professional standards.
Sarah Yang, co-founder and president of the Women’s Health Initiative at UC Davis, said: "In some cases, students do not even know what campus resources exist or where to turn for help. Student activists, like me, can help change the culture on campus, but the schools, themselves, must support student survivors."
“We need to do more to prevent sexual assaults on campus. When they do occur, we need a system that holds perpetrators accountable rather than victimizes survivors a second time,” De León said. “SB 967 will establish an affirmative consent policy to make it clear that only ‘yes’ means ‘yes.’”
“One in five women on college campuses have been sexually assaulted during their time there. This is a serious national issue plaguing our colleges, universities and private institutions,” said Sandra Henriquez,executive director of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “This legislation focuses on survivors and requires colleges and universities to develop survivor-centered policies while also providing them with the best resources and support services available.”
“This bill is about changing the culture on college and university campuses to a culture of ‘no excuses’,” said Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, a joint author of SB 967 and vice chairwoman of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus. “No excuses for rape, no excuses for blaming the victims of rape, no excuses for not supporting these victims, and no excuses for a turning a blind eye to the problem of campus sexual assaults. I am extremely hopeful that, through this legislation, we can all work together to create safer environments for students.”
SB 967 Legislative Proposal
» Require California colleges and universities, as part of their policy regarding campus sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, to include all of the following:
— An affirmative consent standard in the determination of whether consent was given by a complainant.
— Prohibition on an accused perpetrator using self-intoxication or recklessness as a defense. It would also not be a defense if the accused failed to take reasonable steps to ascertain consent.
— An explicit provision that an individual is unable to give consent for sexual activity if the individual is asleep or unconscious; incapacitated due to drugs and/or alcohol; or unable to communicate due to a mental and/or physical condition.
— A preponderance of the evidence standard in the determination of disciplinary action.
» Require colleges and universities to adopt detailed and victim-centered sexual assault response policies and protocols that protect the confidentiality of victims and follow best practices and professional standards.
» Require colleges and universities to enter into memorandums of understanding, agreements or similar partnerships with existing on campus and community-based organizations including rape crisis centers, to assist victims with accessing counseling, health, mental health, victim advocacy, legal and other support services.
» Require colleges and universities to implement comprehensive prevention programs addressing sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. The programs should include an array of prevention strategies including women’s empowerment, campaigns to raise awareness, primary prevention, bystander intervention and risk reduction.
SB 967 is joint-authored by Jackson; principal co-authored by Lowenthal; and co-authored by Sens. Jim Beall, Noreen Evans, Cathleen Galgiani, Fran Pavley and Norma Torres, and Assembly members Lorena Gonzalez and Das Williams.
— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.