California Adopts “Yes Means Yes” Legislation to Curb Sexual Assaults on College Campuses!

Dear Commons Community,

The Chronicle of Higher Education has three articles today covering the “Yes Means Yes” legislation signed by Governor Jerry Brown of California that explicitly requires colleges and universities that receive state funds to define consent in students’ sexual encounters in terms of “yes means yes” rather than the traditional “no means no.”

Mr. Brown’s signing of the “affirmative consent” bill ushers in a new era in the debate about how to curb sexual assaults on college campuses.

A 2007 study by the National Institute of Justice found that one in five women will be sexually assaulted in college. Congress, state lawmakers, and activists have recently been applying intense pressure on colleges to compel them to strengthen their policies against sexual assault.

At California colleges, students must ensure they have the affirmative consent of their partners at the beginning of a sexual encounter and maintain that consent throughout the activity. The law states that consent “can be revoked at any time.” The absence of “no,” the law says, is insufficient to indicate consent.

The bill’s supporters, who include activists who this month delivered a petition to Mr. Brown’s office urging him to sign the bill, have hailed the measure as an important step in clarifying the standard colleges should use in investigating sexual-assault cases. Some critics have warned, however, that the law tramples on the due-process rights of accused students.

Further details on this legislation an be found at:


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