Bill requiring schools to adopt affirmative consent policies passes

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HARTFORD — Connecticut lawmakers have decided to require public and private colleges and universities to adopt clear policies regarding student consent to sexual activity.

The Senate voted 35-1 on Wednesday in favor of legislation requiring affirmed consent to be the standard in determining whether someone has agreed to sexual activity. Affirmed consent is described as an “active, clear and voluntary agreement by a person,” or “yes, means yes,” according to the bill’s proponents.

The bill already has cleared the House of Representatives and now moves to the governor.

Jillian Gilchrest, the senior policy adviser for the Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, released a statement:

Passage of this bill helps shift the culture away from one that assumes women’s bodies are there for the taking to a culture of autonomy and mutual respect. Affirmative Consent empowers men as well as women, because rather than be put on the defensive (waiting for a ‘no’) they can proceed confident in the knowledge they got a ‘clear, active and voluntary’ signal (a ‘yes’). Affirmative Consent is simply a standard that, when an alleged campus sexual assault is reported to college administration, helps clarify what took place.

Democratic Sen. Mae Flexer says the standard would be used in campus sexual assault investigations, disciplinary cases and in training of students about the issue of sexual assault.

Republican Sen. Joe Markley, the bill’s sole opponent, says these cases will still be “he said, she said.