All California colleges, private and public, will adopt a victim-centered approach to sexual assault policies on campuses if a proposed new bill passes muster. Senate Bill 967 is intended to shift more of the burden to the accused to prove he or she obtained consent, rather than leave it to the victim to prove they did not give consent to a sexual encounter. Additionally, the bill has a clause directed at banning being drunk as a defense for alleged perpetrators, and wording that outlines how consent is not considered to be given if a person is unable to communicate, or is asleep or incapacitated.
The bill has the backing and participation of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which hopes to stop sexual assaults being trivialized on college campuses. Assaults are not the norm. They are not part of the University experience, nor should they be overlooked as being business as usual.
It is time to do something about them, and not keep them in the dark or expose them to the public as shameful sex scandals. It’s long past time for the accused to bear the burden of proof in these cases, as well. “No” still means “No”; it should not up to the victim to prove that, and as a result, to be put in a disadvantageous position from the start.
If the review of the bill goes well, it is expected to be signed by the governor in September, with expectations the bill could become law in January. It’s a breath of fresh air to have what should be commonsense human rights enshrined as a law to protect victims of sexual assault. If you have been assaulted, speak to an experienced injury lawyer. You have rights. Protect them—for yourself and for others.