Texas senator proposes bill to define consent on college campuses

USA TODAY College – March 1, 2017

A Texas lawmaker proposed a bill last week that would protect against sexual assault on public and private college campuses in the state.

State Senator Kirk Watson filed Senate Bill 967, hoping to change the definition of “consent” when it comes to sexual assault.

The bill defines sexual assault as lacking consent of the other person and says the other person has not consented if he/she is:

  • unconscious
  • physically unable to resist
  • incapable of assessing the act
  • unaware that the sexual assault is occurring

Or, if the victim has withdrawn consent but the perpetrator continues anyway.

In a news release, Watson said, “‘No’ means no, but the absence of ‘yes’ should also mean no.”

The University of Texas-Austin had 31 reported sexual assaults in 2015, and Texas State University reported the most sexual assaults police had investigated since 2008, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Both colleges are nearby the Texas Capitol where Watson filed several bills regarding sexual assault, in response to scandals at universities, including Baylor and Stanford.

According to the release, “The sexual assault scandals at Baylor University and elsewhere have shown that many institutions of higher education — both public and private — have failed to take sexual assault as seriously as needed and treat the victims with respect and care they deserve.”

Other bills filed by Watson:

  • Senate Bill 966: Protects minors who report sexual assault from being prosecuted for underage drinking.
  • Senate Bill 968: Requires colleges to provide an electronic option for reporting certain offenses — sexual assault, family violence, stalking.
  • Senate Bill 969: Prevents students reporting sexual assault incidents from becoming subject to disciplinary action for those reports.
  • Senate Bill 970: Requires colleges to have a sexual assault policy that includes protocol for reporting and responding to sexual assault.

Texas senator proposes bill to define consent on college campuses

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