Hannah Beth Jackson

Paul Wellman (file)

Hannah Beth Jackson

Community College Sexual Assault Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk

Bill Would Give Community Colleges Jurisdiction in Off-Campus Sexual Assault Cases

Not one state legislator voted against a bill sponsored by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson that would give community college administrators the authority to discipline students for sexual assaults that occur off campus. AB 186 passed unanimously out of the senate and the assembly and now heads to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.

The bill stemmed from a roundtable meeting hosted by the Assembly Higher Education Committee at UCSB last November to discuss flaws in college administrators’ handling of sexual assault cases. At that meeting, SBCC Dean Ben Partee told Jackson and Assemblymember Das Williams state law prohibits community college administrators from disciplining a student found to have violated a campus misconduct policy for incidents that occur off campus. Currently, community college administrators can punish students for off-campus misconduct during a school activity, such as a field trip. But if the conduct has nothing to do with school, administrators are hard-pressed to suspend or expel the student, according to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

“If community colleges can already expel students for something such as plagiarism, it’s clear we also need to give them the tools to expel students for behavior as serious as sexual assault and sexual exploitation,” Jackson said in a statement. “This is particularly important in a place such as Isla Vista, in my district, where we have UC students and community college students living next to each other, but being held to different standards.”

UC campuses administrators have the ability to impose consequences for conduct that occurs off-campus on a case-by-case basis. The same is true for California State University campuses.

Last year, Governor Brown signed a bill sponsored by Jackson and Senator Kevin de Leon, commonly referred to as “yes means yes.” That law requires schools to update their policies to specify affirmative consent between sexual partners and to educate students about consent.

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