Citing a campus culture that "stigmatizes survivors, not the perpetrators," state Sen. Kevin de León announced today new legislation that would require colleges and universities to adopt "victim-centered" response protocols and prevention measures for dealing with sexual violence.
"Sexual assaults are just too common and we need to fundamentally change that," the Los Angeles Democrat said at a press conference. "This isn't about boys being boys. This is about men, young men, teenage boys being sexual predators. There is nothing casual about this."
The bill, co-authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, and Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, would establish "affirmative consent" as the standard for determining whether consent had been given by the complainant in a campus investigation.
It would also develop policies to encourage greater protection and services for victims, as well as education and intervention in the broader campus community.
"It seems sexual assault is treated as an inevitable part of the college experience, and instead of fighting to change it, schools simply overlook it," Jackson said. "We're here to change that paradigm."
Lowenthal noted that one in five female college students will be sexually assaulted but fewer than half will report the crime, calling it a "crisis."
The legislators were flanked by several dozen young women who work on issues related to rape on their college campuses. Sofie Karasek, a junior in political economy at UC Berkeley, emphasized the need for procedures that do not re-victimize survivors.
Karasek said she was sexually assaulted two years ago and felt that she had to prove her credibility to university investigators after reporting the attack. She was one of nine students to file a federal complaint last year alleging that Berkeley had mishandled student reports of sexual assaults.
"I felt very disrespected and betrayed" by the investigation process, Karasek said. "I expected that from the police, but I didn't expect that from my school."
PHOTO: From left, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, and Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, gather with female college students to address campus rape. The Sacramento Bee/Alexei Koseff