The Collegian, Fresno State’s student newspaper, recently published an eye-opening article that touches on what has  become a long-run and hotly debated topic amongst college campuses – sexual assault. The California Senate recently passed the “Yes-Means-Yes” (SB 967) bill that would require both parties to give affirmative consent to sexual activity.

If signed into legislation, it would replace the previous “No-Means-No” standard, which put responsibility on the victim to verbalize his/her consent to sexual activity. September 30th is the deadline, in which California Governor Jerry Brown will be able to sign the SB 967 into legislation. If signed, California will be the first state in the country to adopt a bill of this nature.

The Collegian spoke with Dr. Gregory Thatcher, Assistant Professor in the department of public health, to gain some insight into the bill and the act of sexual assault on college campuses. Here is an excerpt taken from The Collegian:

“It’s more about bringing to light the need for people – not males, for people – to understand the concept of consent,” said Dr. Gregory Thatcher, a Fresno State professor in public health.

While acknowledging the bill has the right intentions, Thatcher said monitoring and enforcing the legislation would be difficult.

“I hope that every state endorses some formal bill that requires consent to be verbal, because it’s showing that solidarity,” Thatcher said. “But they’re all going to face the same problem.”

Thatcher conducted research on sexual assault using more than 1,000 Fresno State students in a study that was published in the International Electronic Journal of Health Education in 2011. He said the vast majority of college females fail to come forward because “a lot of them don’t understand that they’ve been sexually assaulted.”

“They know what it is in the outside world. They don’t know what it is when it’s happened to them,” Thatcher said of sexual assault victims. “So I think that is part of the intent of the bill, to get people to look at if from ‘my own perspective – did I hear the word yes?’ It’s no longer looking for the ‘no.’”

Thatcher’s study showed 17.9 percent of participants were victims of sexual assault. Of those, 4.2 percent reported they were victims of completed rape.

Please take a minute to read more about the Yes-Means-Yes Bill and Dr. Thatcher’s research study on sexual assault at the The Collegian link:

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