California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that redefines how colleges in the state must investigate rape allegations — that the refrain “no means no” isn’t enough.
Instead, investigators have to use the standard “yes means yes” in deciding if rape occurred, The Associated Press reported. What that means in the practical sense is that a rape can be deemed to have occurred if those engaged in sex failed to state affirmatively that they did indeed want to engage in the act.
The text of the bill Mr. Brown signed puts it this way: Rather than using “no means no,” the new definition of consent mandates that “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity” must be given, AP reported.
The law is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation for colleges and universities.
“Every student deserves a learning environment that is safe and healthy,” said Sen. Kevin de Leon, in the AP report. “The state of California will not allow schools to sweep rape cases under the rug. We’ve shifted the conversation regarding sexual assault to one of prevention, justice and healing.”
The new law also makes clear that somebody drunk, under the influence of drugs or unconscious or asleep cannot legally give consent to sex — and specifies that silence or lack of resistance does not grant an OK.
“This is amazing,” said Savannah Badalich, a UCLA student and the founder of the group 7000 in Solidarity, AP reported. “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.”