CA Senate approves assault bill

The California State Senate last week unanimously approved a bill to require the state’s colleges and universities to implement an “affirmative consent” standard for dealing with sexual assault cases.

Senate Bill 967, also called the “yes means yes” bill says that affirmative consent in sexual activity is an “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” between the partners involved, meaning that agreeing while intoxicated does not qualify as consent.

Introduced by State Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, the bill also seeks to establish “victim-centered” policies and access to counseling, legal support and other services for sexual assault victims.

Loretta Rahmani, La Verne’s dean of student affairs and Title IX coordinator, said that La Verne’s policies regarding sexual assault already comply with most of the bill’s sections.

“A trauma informed training program for campus officials is the only thing we need to put into place,” Rahmani said. “But all of our sexual assault investigators have all been trained, and myself and others have been trained in Title IX certification.”

Title IX is the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in education.

Rahmani said she needs to clarify what “trauma informed training” means and how the University can comply.

This semester ULV also has begun two programs, the “Think About It” and bystander “Step Up” program to teach students about issues involved with drugs, alcohol and sexual assault.

The Think About It program is an online course that all incoming students must complete before Nov. 1 or their registration for spring 2015 will be held.

Returning students do not have to participate in the programs.

Rahmani said she believes that the programs and the services the school offers will be successful.

“Sadly if an event were to occur, I believe a victim will come forward and share.” Rahmani said.

In March, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights began an investigation of UC Berkley after receiving a complaint from 31 current and former students alleging that campus administrators violated Title IX by mishandling sexual assault cases.

UC Berkeley and UCLA are among 75 schools under federal investigation for similar Title IX offenses.

State legislators expect Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the state “yes means yes”  bill by the end of the month for a January 2015 effective date making California the first state to establish such a law.

– Katie Madden

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