A bill by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, that would allow community colleges to extend their jurisdiction beyond their campus borders to discipline students for sexual assault violations passed off the Senate floor Monday on a bipartisan vote. The vote was 35-0.
Senate Bill 186 would allow community college districts to use their existing disciplinary process to discipline, expel or suspend students for off-campus sexual assault and sexual exploitation. UC and CSU campuses already have such extended jurisdictions in place. But as a result of current law, community colleges have had little recourse when inappropriate student behavior occurs outside campus boundaries.
“If community colleges can already expel students for something such as plagiarism, it’s clear we also need to give them the tools to expel students for behavior as serious as sexual assault and sexual exploitation. I have heard from community college leaders that this is a tool they feel they need to keep their students and communities safe. This is particularly important in a place such as Isla Vista, where we have UC students and community colleges students living next to each other, but being held to different standards,” Jackson said. “This will level the playing field for all students, regardless of where they are enrolled, send a clear message about sexual assault and help ensure that victims feel safe enough to stay in school.”
This bill is meant to complement but not supersede the criminal justice process. In addition to defining sexual assault, the bill defines sexual exploitation as prostitution as well as recording, photographing and distributing naked and sexual images without a person’s consent.
Jackson is the joint author this year with Senate leader Kevin de León of Senate Bill 695, to require that high school health courses include instruction on affirmative consent, sexual harassment, assault, violence, and the importance of developing positive, healthy relationships.
Last year, Jackson was the joint author of Senate Bill 967, also with Senator Kevin de León. Known nationally as the “yes means yes” bill, SB 967 made California the first state in the nation to define affirmative consent and required institutes of higher education to educate students about consent and sexual assault.
SB 186 now heads to the Assembly Higher Education Committee.
Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.
— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.