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California Legislature Passes First-In-The-Nation College Sexual Consent Bill

If the bill becomes law, students must practice “affirmative consent” — where silence alone is not permission to have sex.

Posted on August 28, 2014, at 8:50 p.m. ET

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College campuses in California are one step closer to requiring students to say yes before having sex.

The state legislature on Thursday approved a bill that changes standards for college sexual assault policies as well as requiring schools to provide resources for victims and create prevention programs. The bill, if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would make California the first U.S. state to enact such a law.

In the past, some college administrators focused on whether a victim said no or physically resisted in determining if a sexual encounter was an assault or rape. If the bill becomes law, students instead must practice "affirmative consent" — where silence alone is not permission to have sex. Under the rules, a person who is asleep, unconscious or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol cannot consent to having sex.

The policy changes would not affect criminal investigations by police, just college discipline of students found in violation of the policy.

The bill comes at a time when 55 universities around the country are under a federal investigation of their practices in handling sexual assault complaints.

If Brown signs the bill into law, the standards could reduce the amount of campus sexual violence, University of California Berkeley student Meghan Warner told BuzzFeed in June.

She said students need more education on consent and recalled talking to men on campus who didn't know that having sex with a woman who was "blacked-out drunk" is rape.

"Their jaw dropped," she said. "They had no clue."