Council hearing discusses sexual consent at Philly area colleges

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 Michele Rovinsky-Mayer, Associate Vice President and Title XI coordinator at Drexel University talks about the steps her school has taken to address the issue of sexual assault. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Michele Rovinsky-Mayer, Associate Vice President and Title XI coordinator at Drexel University talks about the steps her school has taken to address the issue of sexual assault. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

With colleges under intense pressure to prevent sexual assault on campus, Philadelphia City Council held a rare Friday hearing on what consent is in the 21st Century.  

The hearing discussed a California law mandating colleges adopt a “yes means yes” standard.  Lack of protest or resistance doesn’t equal consent under this standard.

“Affirmative consent whether verbal or through clear and unambiguous actions needs to exist throughout the conduct and any conduct that the individuals may have,” said Drexel University associate vice president Michele Rovinsky-Mayer.

Professor Michelle Madden Dempsey from Villanova School of Law says adopting “yes means yes” does not change the legal standard for proving a sexual assault.

“It does not place any extra burden on the accused that they have to prove someone signed their concent away or video evidence,” she said.

Colleges in the region testified that they have specific programs to address this issue, even if they haven’t endorsed “yes means yes.”

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