Consent Is A Right, Not A Privilege
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Politics and Activism

Consent Is A Right, Not A Privilege

Bill 967 wants to keep it that way

Consent Is A Right, Not A Privilege

With 55 schools being investigated for mishandling sexual abuse claims, the need for change is more pressing than ever. 

Consent is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as "permission for something to happen or agreement to do something". Let's take a step forward and keep it that way.

Introduced by California Senators De León and Jackson, Bill 967 was approved by the Senate this past Thursday. If signed by Governor Jerry Brown, the Bill 967 could re-define the standards by which colleges handle sexual assault cases. 

Bill 967 introduces the idea of "affirmative consent". Instead of "no means no", the bill approaches consent in a new way - "yes, and only yes, means yes". This means that sexual acts that occur while one partner is asleep, unconscious, or incapacitated due to the influence of alcohol or drugs are deemed nonconsensual. It also states that consent can be retracted at any time. 

Not only will the bill change how sexual assault cases are handled and investigated, it will also gear schools to be "victim centered". The bill states that education institutions "shall adopt detailed and victim-centered policies and protocols regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking involving a student that comport with best practices and current professional standards" in order to receive government funding. 

A common misconception about sexual assault is that all sexual assault involves rape. "Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient" and covers much more than sexual intercourse. Awareness and education should be a key focus of the US education system.

While there are many who advocate the bill, the National Coalition for Men protest, arguing that the bill targets men. This complaint illustrates just how much this bill must pass and just how much the platform for education [regarding sexual assault] needs to be strengthened and implemented. 

Sexual assault does not make victims of only one gender; it affects everyone of any gender or sexuality. Not understanding this is what hinders change from coming. It's about time that people feel safe in their own dorm rooms and are able to know that their school is on their side. 

Consent is not a privilege bestowed upon anyone. Consent is a fundamental, basic right. 

You can read the proposed bill and see its progress: here

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