College Sexual Assault Legislation Introduced

Bills from Jackson and Williams Would Toughen Rules On and Off Campus

A group of young women walk through the streets of Isla Vista
Paul Wellman

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assemblymember Das Williams recently introduced new legislative efforts to address the hot-button issue of sexual assaults on college campuses.

Historically, many colleges have maintained that their jurisdiction ends at their campus borders, claiming they do not have much legal power — if any — to discipline students who commit crimes elsewhere.

According to Jackson’s office, UC and CSU campuses have extended their reach, but community colleges still lack legal recourse because of current laws. Jackson’s new bill specifically targets community colleges and would permit them to use their disciplinary procedures to expel or suspend students for “egregious” behavior they commit off campus.

“This is particularly important in a place such as Isla Vista where we have UC students and community colleges students living next to each other, but being held to different standards,” Jackson said in a statement.

Santa Barbara City College President Lori Gaskin said should the measures pass, SBCC would be able to better enforce their disciplinary measures. Currently, a student might be disciplined through the school on a case-by-case basis if they commit a criminal act off campus and if school administrators are made aware of the incident.

“I wish we didn’t have to come to this, but I am so happy for these bills,” Gaskin said, adding she “prefers to be proactive on the front end, rather than being reactive on the back end.” She went on, “I want students to understand they are scholars and they are coming to SBCC because they are academic students, not party students.”

Data posted on SBCC’s website reported zero to five cases of sex-related crimes on campus or in the adjacent community each year from 2011 to 2013. Zero to 13 cases of stalking were reported each year.

Last year, Jackson and Senator Kevin de Leon authored the so-called “yes means yes” bill that defines consent in policies at universities so that partners must express a specific desire to engage in sexual conduct.

In a package of bills, Williams proposed a measure that would require campus judicial affairs departments to consider suspending a student for two years or expelling them if they commit a sexual assault. At UCSB, the maximum suspension that judicial affairs can hand down is two quarters, though some cases can be referred to conduct boards, which can recommend a multitude of penalties including dismissal.

According to UCSB spokesperson George Foulsham, one of these boards deals specifically with sexual assault. In the past several years, a handful of students have been expelled each year.

Another of Williams’s bills would require university academic transcripts to note if a student is found guilty of committing sexual assault. In the current UC system, only a dismissal warrants a permanent notation.


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