It’s not often to see history being made that directly affects college students. The passing of California Senate Bill 967 on Sept. 29 puts colleges at the forefront.
What is Senate Bill 967?
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Sept. 29 of this year that makes California the first state to have an Affirmative Consent Law. This law would require schools, whose students receive financial aid, to uphold an affirmative consent standard in disciplinary hearings and to educate students, faculty, and staff about the standard.
The school boards would have to adopt certain policies such as entering memorandum of understandings with campus and community organizations to refer students for assistance and be sure to have these services readily available.
Lastly, according the bill, school boards would be required to “implement comprehensive prevention and outreach programs addressing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.”
Political Science Professor Jodi Balma spoke on the bill Monday, Oct.13 at a packed screening of the short documentary “The Line,” hosted by the Political Science club and the Sociology club.
Consent for what though?
According to the Fullerton College Guide on Sexual Violence Education, Reporting, and Referrals, sexual consent is defined as “the free and active agreement, given equally by both partners, to engage in a specific sexual activity.”
Yes, we’re talking about sex here and things aren’t as black and white as they seem to be.
Affirmative Consent means that both parties are of conscious and sound minds when giving each party permission to participate in a predetermined activity. Consent is completely voluntary and can be withdrawn at any time after.
Going into a situation where two partners are going to be active with one another, they must understand boundaries and they must give the other person clear permission and acknowledgement before moving forward.
There are three pillars of consent that people should guide themselves by when giving or receiving consent: “Knowing exactly what and how much I’m agreeing to; expressing my intent to participate; deciding freely and voluntarily to participate.”
Now this sounds like you should walk into the bedroom with a contract filled with initials and cosigners, but consent is described as being anything from a smile, to a nod, to a verbal “yes.” All that matters is that communication has taken place and unambiguous positive acknowledgement has been exchanged.
If consent isn’t given or if consent is withdrawn at any point during the activities, then the activities do not end that moment, a sexual violation has taken place.
From Community Colleges to Universities
The impact of the Senate Bill will affect nearly all college students in the state of California, with the exception being for-profit schools such as DeVry and Corinthian.
Here at Fullerton College, the Health Center and school administration are well trained and ready to handle a sexual harassment case with grace and diligence. The staff respects anonymity and will provide support for the victim with resources.
As outlined in Fullerton College’s Sexual Violence Education, Reporting, and Referral Guide, the steps to immediately take if you’ve been sexually assaulted are to first get away from the assailant, especially if you assume you’re in immediate danger.
When you feel that you’re in a safe place, it’s suggested you call 911 or the police department for that area that the assault took place. If you’re on campus, call Campus Safety immediately. While in a safe environment try not to shower or clean your body or destroy the clothing you were wearing around the assailant. This is for evidence collection. Even if you do not immediately plan on filing charges, it’s always safe to have evidence in case the situation ever arises that’d you’d like to proceed with legal action. Attempt to follow through with these immediate actions during the first 72 hours after the violation.
According to the Sexual Violence Education, Reporting and Referral Guide, “The Health Center is not an evidence collection site but will assist you in securing the care you need.”
Vanessa Miller, a nurse at the Health Center commented saying that if you find yourself in the Health Center immediately after being sexually assaulted and you wish to have evidence collected, the evidence will be sent over to the Anaheim Memorial Medical Center, a place that Fullerton College works very closely with.
From there, the Health Center offers six free counseling sessions with a licensed therapist. If you wish to talk about the assault and need guidance and consolation. You will also be provided with community resources such as hotlines, therapy referrals, shelters and victim services
If the accused assailant is a student, he or she will be investigated by the college and the college will take the appropriate disciplinary, criminal or legal action. Even if there are no charges filed and pursued against the alleged assailant, the school still reserves the right to hand down punishment on their own accord. The disciplinary action can range from suspension to expulsion.
Fullerton College has had the previous procedures in place before SB 967, but now it requires a strict re-enforcement of these procedures. Staff and administration are required to treat the victim and assailant accordingly. The process of reviewing each assault case on the campus has to seek to remove the “slut shaming” when consulting with the victim. Questions like “What were you wearing?” and “Did your actions provoke your assailant to assault you?,” which seek to blame the victim and place the responsibility on them which may only cause further emotional trauma and cause bias in the investigation therefore corrupting the actions taken.
Common Sense With Reinforcement
It seems like it’d be common knowledge to have mutual consent and understanding before going to bed with your partner but unfortunately the statistics don’t match up.
According to The National Victims Center, a sexual assault occurs every six minutes in the U.S. 30 percent of women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes and 20 percent of men are sexually assaulted by the time they are 18 years old.
According to the annual Security Report released by Campus Safety, in 2013 alone there were two domestic violence and one sexual assault crimes reported on the Fullerton College campus.
SB 967 will reinforce education to students and staff on how to handle sexual harassment and violence. This educational program seeks to educate not just for the student or staff’s time on the campus but for them to carry throughout their lives if they should ever be in a situation where a sexual assault crime has taken place.
If you or someone you know has been a victim or assailant of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, contact Campus Safety at (714) 992-7777, the Fullerton College Health Center at (714) 992-7093 or the Fullerton Police Department (714) 738-6800