California Universities To Apply “Yes Means Yes” Rule in Disciplinary Hearings
Public Concern About Rape On College Campuses
College rape cases have been making headlines across the country. A common theme in these cases is criticism of college administration for failing to take the complaints of alleged victims seriously. In response to these criticisms, Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill into law that changes the rules that colleges must use when investigating college rape cases.
California’s “Yes Means Yes” Law
The “yes means yes” law enacted by Governor Brown applies to all college campuses in California that receive state funds for student financial assistance. Under the new rule, whenever there is a disciplinary hearing that involves one student raping or sexually assaulting another student the school administration must determine whether the alleged victim gave “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity”.
What “Yes Means Yes” Means
In other words, the alleged perpetrator must show that the alleged victim gave some sort of explicit assent to sexual activity. Furthermore, the alleged perpetrator must show that they took “reasonable steps” to make sure that he understood that explicit assent was given by the alleged victim. This consent can be withdrawn at any time before or during sex.
A College Disciplinary Hearing Has a Lower Standard Of Proof
According to the new law, a disciplinary committee only has to find proof of lack of consent by “preponderance of the evidence”. This is a lower standard of proof than “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a court room. Of course, punishment does not include imprisonment. The worst punishment that can happen is being expelled from college, though this can also have severe consequences for a person’s future employment or ability to apply to another college.