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A new bills requires colleges to crack down on sex offenses

Even after growing up in an era where "no means no," many young college students still lack the necessary knowledge when it comes to consent for sex. Many lawmakers and individuals also believe higher-level educational institutions have responded to sexual assault allegations with ineffective investigative and disciplinary processes.

Hopes to change reactive decisions into proactive steps have led to the dawning of a "yes means yes" movement that could become law in Maryland.

Four Maryland-based colleges are facing scrutiny over their handling of sexual assault cases and potential violations of students' Title IX rights. Federal investigators are currently looking into allegations that college disciplinary authorities improperly responded to serious accusations.

The House Bill 1142 clarifies sexual consent on campuses of higher education institutions. The recently proposed legislation defines affirmative consent as, "clear, unambiguous, knowing, informed and voluntary agreement between all participants to engage in sexual activity." If passed, the state would also require colleges and universities to adopt detailed and defined affirmative consent policies.

The legislation creates a new definition of sexual consent as active, ongoing and revocable. Mutual agreement requires the presence of a "yes" or other positive response from all participants. Consent does not involve silence, lack of resistance or the absence of someone saying, "No" because of intoxication, incapacitation or unconsciousness).

The bill does not account for criminal punishment, as those accused would go through their schools' disciplinary processes. It would also protect the confidentiality of victims' and alleged perpetrators' identities in any subsequent litigation.

Opponents claim that passage of the bill makes sex something that should not be discussed. Supporters cite the need to reduce sexual violence while promoting healthier relationships.

Facing sexual assault allegations at any level requires the immediate help of a skilled criminal defense attorney who is up-to-date on recent changes in the laws, and knows how to effectively defend you both in the court and at college disciplinary proceedings.

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