From “no” to “yes”

Did they say yes? Or did the way they kissed you say yes?

“Affirmative consent” could soon be a phrase all incoming freshmen learn as an outcome of a state bill working its way through California. A change in language is what we need to create a dialogue about consent.

The legislation will change the mantra for rape prevention on California campuses that receive state funds from “no means no” to “yes means yes” with the threat of cutting funding.

Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill into law this month, making California the first state to require colleges and universities to set a standard of “affirmative consent” for sexual activity. According to the legislation, “affirmative consent” will mean “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.”

And while it may seem like common sense, just because he or she is not saying no does not mean there is consent. The bill states a lack of protest or resistance, silence, a history of hooking up or being too inebriated does not mean consent.

Many advocates for the change say “yes means yes” will make it easier for survivors to be able to prove the sexual assault because on top of dealing with a traumatic experience, they are also expected to prove they were trying to resist. Those fighting against the bill worry about false accusations and the struggle to prove consent was given.

I can only hope, for those who are survivors of sexual assault while in college, this bill is signed and sets a precedent across the United States.

September, October and November have the highest rates of sexual assault on college campuses, according to The Campus Sexual Assault Study. This fall, be a positive bystander by intervening if necessary, ask for affirmative consent and if you are in need of support, call UW-Eau Claire’s sexual assault crisis hotline at 715-836-HELP.