A bill to further protections for college students who are victims of sexual assault was approved by the California Senate on Tuesday, May 28, in part a response to the Trump administration’s attempts to roll back existing Title IX provisions. Introduced by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Senate Bill 493 would extend the scope of investigations to include incidents that happen off campus, for example. This would be a significant alteration to existing legislation and recognize that the vast majority of college students live in housing off campus.
In November of last year, federal Secretary of Education Betsy Devos proposed altering Title IX legislation, including the dismissal of any reports of incidents occurring off-campus. Devos’s proposals include a presumption that the accused is innocent, that allegations are explained to both parties, and that both have equal access to relevant evidence. Other parts of Devos’s proposal are seen to narrow the definition of what constitutes sexual harassment and assault, which many argue are an affront to the progress made by the Obama administration and the #MeToo movement.
Jackson’s bill also strengthens the likelihood of complaints moving forward by stating that the complainant will not be put at fault for having consumed alcohol and/or drugs around the time of the incident. The bill, which was co-authored by Assemblymember Monique Limón, among others, awaits review by the State Assembly.