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Affirmative Consent

One of the best bills to come out of the Sacramento Legislature this year and recently signed into law is Senate Bill 967, Affirmative Consent, which is intended to reduce the incidence and risk of date rape or unwanted sexual advances among college students on campus. The only problem with the bill is that it doesn’t go far enough, and it is not enforceable. Without a mandatory signed consent form, it still remains a matter of “he said, she said.”

For affirmative consent to work , prior to any sexual behavior beyond kissing and light petting, a state-issued consent form should need to be filled out by both parties with their name, address, and date of birth as it appears on their driver’s license or other official form of ID. Phone numbers should also be mandatory so either party could be contacted quickly in case of an investigation. Falsifying information or engaging in sex without a signed form would be a misdemeanor crime.

Signatures however can be faked or coerced. The only way to verify mutual consent is to have the forms signed in the presence of a notary public. Notaries are underutilized in Santa Barbara. We need to train and license more and provide them with booths or spaces on campus.

Students should be protected off campus as well. Affirmative consent needs to be expanded and applied to students not just on university campuses but wherever they may be nearby. Notaries should be available in Isla Vista, the downtown bar area, and elsewhere. Students who want or who are open to the possibility of having sex on any given day or night would be wise to carry a consent form with them at all times.

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