Senator Kevin De Leon, author of Senate Bill 967. (MCT Campus)
Proposed legislation could require colleges and universities to follow “victim centered” response and prevention measures to deal with sexual violence on campus.
Senate Bill 967, also known as the Affirmative Consent Bill, would require the California State University, University of California systems and California Community Colleges to adopt consistent sexual assault policies and protocols that focus on the victim.
Senator Kevin de Leon, Legislative Women’s Caucus Chair and Vice Chair, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal along with Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson sponsor the bill.
“This bill makes a strong statement that California is moving from a culture of acceptance to a ‘no excuses’ culture,” said State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) in a press release given to the Clarion by Senator Kevin de Leon’s press secretary, dated May 30. “No excusing for not supporting these victims. And no excuses for colleges and universities turning a blind eye to the problem of campus sexual assault and violence.”
If SB 967 becomes law, governing boards would be required to implement prevention and outreach programs addressing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.
Any college receiving public funding would have to adopt an “affirmative consent” standard. The traditional “no means no” would not be enough. “Only yes means yes,” would be the standard.
The bill states, “’affirmative consent’ is a freely and affirmatively communicated willingness to participate in particular sexual activity or behavior, expressed either by words or clear, unambiguous actions.”
It further states that if an individual is unable to give consent for sexual activity because he or she is asleep, unconscious, incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol or unable to communicate due to a mental or physical condition, then any continued sexual advances are to be reported as sexual assault.
Currently there are 55 colleges being investigated by the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights for failing to properly investigate reports of sexual assaults and cover ups as well.
Occidental College and the University of Southern California are among the 55 colleges and universities being investigated by the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights for failing to properly investigate and report sexual assaults.
Occidental College has admitted to failing to properly report 24 assaults in 2010 and 2011, while USC has been accused of mislabeling alleged campus sexual assaults as “injury response.”
Because of this a majority of sexual assault reports were filed only as “injury response” in order to keep Clery report numbers down.
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, also known as the Clery Act, requires all colleges and universities participating in federal student aid programs to disclose campus safety information to ensure students, faculty and staff are informed about their campus crime. Colleges and universities are required to submit annual reports of crime statistics and summaries of campus safety policies.
One in five women on any college campus will be a victim of some form of sexual assault violence according to a White House report by President Obama.
The risk of a sexual assault attack at a community college, though less probable, is still a possibility.
“Sexual assaults have been happening for many, many decades, so I don’t think it’s anything new, especially at a residential campus,” said Arvid Spor, Ed.D., vice president of student services and interim vice president of instruction at Citrus College.
“I think it’s just more prevalent at a university than it is at a community college where everyone drives in for the day and drives out,” he said.
Citrus College reported having three “forcible” sexual assaults in 2011. There was also one incident of sexual harassment in the Hayden Memorial Library along with one other case of sexual battery at an off-campus site involving a Citrus student reported in fall 2013.
“If people are more aware, then I think they are less likely to be vulnerable. Any time someone appears to be vulnerable, that’s when a predator type of person is more likely to do something,” Spor said.
Once a victim reports an assault, Campus Safety notifies the Glendora Police Department. The vice president of student services as well as personnel in the Student Health Center are notified in order to provide the victim with resources and counseling if necessary.
There are also “resources available as far as counseling off-campus as well,” according to Ben Macias, interim director of Campus Safety.
The Associated Students of Citrus College executive board recently hosted Sex Week 101 for the second time. Speakers, TED Talk and discussions regarding why women stay in domestic violence relationships were included.
“We are hoping students listen,” said Adrienne Thompson, supervisor of student life and leadership development.
“Citrus can only do so much. The students have to do some self-help, too.
And they need to be proactive and they need to be self-aware. They need to be honest about the potentiality of it all,” Thompson said.
Campus Safety offers an escort service to all students, faculty and staff. Those who take night classes are urged to take advantage.
A facilities project organized by Fred Diamond, director of facilities, in conjunction with Edison, is upgrading the parking lot lights into energy efficient lights that shine brighter.
This will benefit students with night classes most because the campus will be better lit.
“[We] hope to continue the project and change all of the lights to LED lighting,” Macias said. “But it is a process and it is time consuming.”