No crime is a bigger issue on college campuses across the nation than sexual assault, and some states have now decided to take matters into their own hands.
California’s state legislature passed a law that changes the standard on defining sexual assault.
Rather than focusing on whether the victim explicitly rejected or resisted sexual activity, the law establishes that there must be affirmative consent before sexual activity. For California, it’s no longer “no means no” but “yes means yes.”
Affirmative consent is a change in the right direction. Under the previous policy, a girl who gets too drunk and doesn’t reject sexual activity outright may never seek the justice she seeks.
California is not the only state that has tackled this issue with urgency. Connecticut passed several reforms on sexual assault, including a mandate that requires colleges to provide services for victims on college campuses. New Jersey has also passed legislation in response to sexual assaults in their state.
While the federal government has addressed this issue when Title IX was enacted, a landmark law that lays out the rights entitled to sexual assault victims, it’s still paramount for states to take on reform for sexual assault. Public universities get the majority of their funding from their respective state’s legislative body, so the states have the power to see this legislation go through.
While a number states have worked diligently to pass sexual assault reforms, other states, like Texas, have not.
Dawnna Dukes, a state representative from Austin, wrote a bill that proposed the creation of a taskforce to write policy changes on sexual assault, but that bill has been stalled by the legislature.
Texas falling behind on sexual assault is not a surprise. This is the same state that ruled improper photography unconstitutional, meaning that taking pictures up a woman’s skirt in public is legal and protected as freedom of expression.
It is to be hoped that the state can change their views on sexual assault, and update their laws to more accurately address sexual assault. These reforms are not egregious and do not cross any lines. It’s common sense for the safety of women on campus.