Students who poured onto the campus of UC Berkeley last week, had several necessary seminars to attend. One such seminar dealt with what sexual “consent” actually was. The seminar defined consent in three ways, “Knowing exactly what and how much I’m agreeing to”, “Expressing intent to participate” and “Deciding voluntarily to participate”.
The seminar hosted by Berkeley is timely, as well, as California could potentially become the first state to enact an affirmative consent law. Senate Bill 967 aims to change the education code. It would require schools receiving financial aid to adhere to an affirmative consent standard. The initiative aims to require an “affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision by each party to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity”
The bill would also make it a disciplinary issue to have sexual relations with a person who is visibly intoxicated, regardless of the couple’s prior sexual history, or the consent given while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
UC Berkeley and other schools in California may soon be forced to rewrite their policies on sexual assault and activity among students, but they would not be the first schools to take such an initiative. In the early 2000s, an Ohio college voluntarily rewrote their code of conduct regarding sexuality, to include an affirmative consent clause. In short, Antioch College required students to receive verbal confirmation and consent at each stage of physical intimacy.
Antioch College was openly mocked for their policy, quickly becoming the punch line in running jokes about sexual assault and consent. While Antioch was mocked, many believe they were simply ahead of their time, and far more progressive in their views of social justice and sexual health. The college, which briefly closed and has since reopened, still has the affirmative consent requirement in their code of conduct.
Not only was Antioch College ahead of the curve, it’s code of conduct seems to be the template for the proposed bill. With that being said, the bill has yet to pass and could be vetoed at some stage, however, California schools appear to be complying with the spirit of the bill before it is officially passed.
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