We have been discussing California’s new “Yes Means Yes” bill and its accompanying app.
As I have mentioned, the “Yes Means Yes” approach is not really brand new. At least here in the Commonwealth, various colleges and universities have been using the approach.
I know...I have handled the cases.
In case you are wondering why the changed approach, the schools will tell you it is simply to combat the ever-growing threat of campus sexual assaults. I would suggest, as I have in the past, that the true reason is that the schools were being criticized for not having proper procedures to follow when dealing with such assaults.
In some ways, similar to what I feel drives much of the criminal justice system; the threat of bad press. No, academic authorities do are not really politicians on their ways to higher posts (like district attorneys), but they do need to populate their colleges and…and this cannot be overstated…they are responsible for our kids. Thus, even aside from covering themselves, the schools do face a very real problem in fighting sex crimes.
The only question is which is more important to them...protecting their students or looking like they are protecting their students.
Sexual assaults are not the only types of crimes which can happen on a college campus. Yes, school have to protect their students from such crimes. Just like they have that same duty with crimes which do not claim the headlines such as simple assaults and drug crimes.
I find it interesting that there are no brand new approaches to these other non-media-worthy crimes. But I digress.
This past Labor Day weekend, a group of Yale freshmen met in a classroom for a 90 minutes workshop wherein different levels of sexual assertion were discussed and acted out.
Examining common situations in which young healthy adults find themselves interested in each other, the group role-played situations involving one youth asking another out for a date. What they found was what we already knew. Folks have various reasons to be a bit dishonest when it comes to showing interest.
Of course, adults face this issue every day, so one can imagine how difficult it is for kids. Especially since they may be in their first potential dating experience, fresh from home where mom, dad and church may have been echoing the Nancy Reagan “Just say no” advice.
Of course, the problem becomes even more confusing when the situation goes from agreeing to a date and the initiation of sex. The problem is that there are unquestionably gray areas.
Most of the male students expressed some nervousness about accidentally running afoul of consent rules, especially because drinking usually precedes a casual hookup. Some wondered whether training can really prepare you for what is often sex between relative strangers.
Especially young strangers. From different backgrounds. Some of whom may not even know what they are doing.
In fact, let's face it. Some of these instances involve under-age drinking and even what amounts to statutory rape. However, in many cases, we sweep those considerations aside unless it is to consider it purely against the one we end up naming "Defendant".
So..in the face of such confusion, why not have an etched-in-stone law like “Yes Means Yes?
Attorney Sam’s Take On The Easy Answer Approach (Once Again) Part Two
In case you have forgotten, this is not A “sexual relationships” Blog. The point of my postings is to educate people on the criminal justice realities that are lurking outside their doors, Ready to pounce, at all times. In other words, I am not going to be solving the question of the best approach between college students when it comes to sex. However, the “yes means yes” policy, followed by many universities and, potentially the direction in which our legislators decide to go in order to see “tough on crime” is something that should concern you.
I suppose, in order to be completely candid, I should tell you that my personal view is that A potential sexual partner does not, at any time, even midway through, lose the right to say “no” or” stop”. Any continuation after that point I’ve the other partner, is clearly sexual assault and/or rape.
“So…that’s wonderful, Sam. We now know that you are not in favor of rape. You have also told us that people, kids particularly, find certain dating and sexual circumstances somewhat confusing…so what are these threatening dangers lurking outside our doors in connection with "Yes Means Yes?"
Unfortunately, that will require one more…somewhat shorter…blog on this subject which will be posted later today.
Gotta get ready for court now…but still trying to get these blog up there.
I promise…I will move on to another subject after the next one.
For the original story upon which this blog is based, please go to