Because colleges use a lesser burden of proof than criminal courts -- preponderance of evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt -- it makes sense to have a different definition of consent on campus, Dunn said, though she would ultimately like to see states adopt similar definitions at the criminal level as well.In order to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, colleges must investigate complaints of sexual assault, even if students decline to go to the police.Rape-prevention educators argue that the heightened awareness of rape will help place sexual relations between men and women on an equal footing, reducing sexual exploitation by men.
Last month, California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed legislation requiring colleges in the state to adopt sexual assault policies that shifted the burden of proof in campus sexual assault cases from those accusing to the accused.
Consent is now "an affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity." The consent has to be "ongoing" throughout any sexual encounter.
Laura Dunn, executive director of Surv Justice, said campus sexual assault policies could even "fill in some of the holes" in criminal laws regarding consent.
In many states, consent is still based on a victim verbally or physically resisting, even as colleges within those states adopt affirmative consent policies.
Students may not have even heard of the phrase by then.” That’s because at a growing number of colleges, “No means no” is out, and “Yes means yes” is in.
And it's more than just revising an old slogan -- from coast to coast, colleges are rethinking how they define consent on their campuses.The nonprofit passed out business cards and marketing all emblazoned with the phrase “No Means No.” For the last two decades, that’s been the slogan of choice for sexual assault prevention efforts, and just a few months ago it seemed like a perfect fit for the new organization.But in the weeks leading up to No Means No’s official launch, the organization began having second thoughts.“The swiftly evolving conversation about defining sexual assault signaled to us that we needed to reframe our name as something more positive,” said Allison Korman, the group’s executive director.“And it’s even possible that ‘No means no’ will be an outdated or irrelevant concept in 10 years."Traditionally we've focused on a lack of consent as someone fighting off an attacker," Dunn said. We only talked about what consent was not, which is not a very helpful paradigm. But even looking at this from the perspective of someone being accused, the traditional definition is telling them that it's O. to do this until the victim says 'no.' That's not really a helpful definition for them either because it can really be too late at that point. Consent is consent." "No means no" hasn't always had such a negative connotation.