A new proposal in New Jersey makes it the latest state moving to require college campuses to define when "yes means yes" in an effort to stem the tide of sexual assaults.
California adopted a similar measure in August, and New York's governor directed the State University of New York system to implement a similar standard. New Hampshire lawmakers are also considering it, said Yahoo News.
Supporters and critics agree the measure could encourage students to talk openly and clearly about sex and that a culture of "yes means yes" — an affirmative agreement compared with the "no means no" refrain of previous decades — could help address the issue of campus sex assaults.
But skeptics of the policy raise questions — many of which have yet to be settled because the standard is new and it is unclear how many cases have been subjected to the standard— about whether it offers enough protections to the accuser and accused alike.
"Affirmative consent standards could unfairly shift the burden of proof to the accused, critics say, pointing out that any sexual contact could then be ruled inappropriate absent some proof of consent," said Yahoo News. "Some critics also say they could prove to be unfair to victims, who may themselves facing a heavier burden during campus tribunals under Title IX — widely known as the law governing the role of men and women in athletics, but which also aims to protect students from sexual discrimination — which currently defines the standard as "unwelcome and offensive touching."
In New Jersey, state Sen. Jim Beach introduced legislation that would withhold state funds from colleges and universities unless they adopt an affirmative consent standard, although the legislation is still waiting for its day in committee.