California Passes “Yes Means Yes” Law
On September 29, Governor of California Jerry Brown signed SB967, more commonly known as the “Yes Means Yes” bill, making California the first state in the union to require affirmative consent, and not the absence of a rejection, for sexual activity. The law, written by State Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), applies to all state colleges and institutions that receive federal aid funding.
The law mandates that all sexual activity requires an overt show of consent from both partners. The law reads, “‘Affirmative consent’ means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” (Politicususa.com, “California Leads the Way Out of the Rape Culture With Yes Means Yes Law,” 09.29.2014)
The law continues on to stipulate, “Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent.” Additionally, affirmative consent is also expressly required during each sexual experience.
Affirmative consent also must be given at each stage of sexuality activity. Both partners also retain the right to revoke their consent at any point during the experience. A previous or current relationship between both parties, as well as affirmative consent at an earlier time during the same day, are also rejected as forms of consent.
Another factor in regards to consent, particularly of issue on college campuses, is the law’s regulations around the influence of alcohol or drugs and the ability to give consent. The law states that any person who is either incapactitated or unable to understand the “nature” or “extent” of the sexual activity. The law also makes both partners equally responsibel for attaining consent.
Prior to its passage, the law had been criticized in the media. An adviser to the National Caolition for Men Gordon Finley argued that the bill presumes the accused guilty of sexual misconduct. Meanwhile, legaslative and policy director for the Foundation for the Individual Rights in Education Joseph Cohn stated that the legislation is out of sync with the realities of human sexuality. He said, “Under this legislation, students who are or may become sexually active must now worry about documenting that they obtained consent, because proving affirmative consent is the only way to defend oneself before a campus tribunal.” (CNN, “Schools preach ‘enthusiastic; yes in sex consent education,” 09.29.2014)
This law, while the first of its kind, adds to a growing movement on by sexual health advocates and college administrators, as well the White House, to shift the rhetoric of sexual assault policies away from implied consent.
—Bethan Johnson, Contributing Editor
Mount Ontake Volcanon Erupts in Japan
On September 27, 2014, a volcano in central Japan erupted without warning. The active volcano, Mount Ontake, erupted in between Nagano and Gifu prefecture district, in the Chubu region, and covered at least a 2.5 mile radius of the area in ash and loose stones.
Mount Kiso Ontake is the second highest volcano in Japan at a little over 3,000 meters on the peak of Honshu island. At 11:53 a.m. Japan Standard Time Zone, the volcano erupted with at least 30 people injured and another 32 missing under the debris. There were more than ten people who remained unconscious and covered by the six to seven inches of ash. Most victims were visiting climbers or tourists who had come to see these crater lakes and foliage in the fall for their beauty. Out of all the climbers, at least 200 have been able to descend, with and without the help of army units and 550 emergency officials commissioned by the Prime Minister Shinzō Abe.
Officials later told residents near the active volcano to be aware of falling debris within a 4 kilometer radius of the eruption. There are still about 40 people who are taking shelter in mountain lodges, said Sohei Hanamura, a crisis management official in Nagano. There was also one woman who was initially confirmed dead but this statement was later rescended.
On Sunday, workers planned on trying to reach those injured and buried under the plumes of ash and hopefully all will be rescued. However, efforts to attempt to rescue those injured by air have been ineffective because of the danger of having these aircrafts in close proximity to the ground with not enough space to maneuver and locate the injured. The ash is a major obstacle to rescue workers as it impairs the sight of the rescuers as well as hiding loose rocks in the pathways up the mountain which can be a potential fall hazard.
According to a Youtube video taken by hikers, called “Mount Ontake Volcano Eruption In Japan RAW VIDEO,” shocked climbers glimpsed scenes of the eruption with massive plumes of ash mushrooming out of the crevice and stating that everything went dark for a couple of minutes. Japan’s meteorologists raised the alert level for this volcanic activity to a three from a scale of one to five, with five being the most severe, and insisted that people to stay away from the mountain if possible.
—Lisa Je ’18, Guest Reporter