PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Gina Lauterio

Telephone: 301-801-0608

Email: glauterio@saveservices.org

 

SAVE Calls for the University of Minnesota to Abandon Proposed Affirmative Consent Policy for Sexual Assault

WASHINGTON / August 4, 2015 – SAVE, a national organization working to end campus sexual assault, is today calling on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents to reject the affirmative consent sexual assault policy proposed by President Eric Kaler. SAVE warns that the draft policy will do nothing to stop intentional sexual assault. Instead, the policy would serve to trample on students’ freedom, privacy, and due process protections.

The policy would require students to follow an “affirmative consent” standard or face disciplinary action: http://policy.umn.edu/review/sexualassault-appa The Board of Regents will reconsider the proposed policy at its upcoming September board meeting, after the Board earlier halted the policy from going into effect in mid-July.

SAVE’s letter to the Board of Regents cautions that the policy contains numerous vague and unworkable provisions, and does not even define the term “sexual activity.” Most importantly, the proposed policy never specifies how consent is to be communicated. Students would be left without practical guidance as to what indicators are sufficient to obtain consent.

Affirmative consent policies have become the focus of national criticism and satire: The Sexual Train Wreck Behind Yes Means Yes, Heather Wilhelm, Real Clear Politics, July 9, 2015, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/07/09/the_sexual_train_wreck_behind_yes_means_yes_127304.html Journalist Ashe Schow concludes that under the proposed U of M standard, “anything the accuser decides later they didn’t like can become grounds for an accusation.” The proposed policy was the subject of a satirical Reason.com contest where readers were invited to submit entries to mock the policy.

SAVE also warns the Board of Regents that the policy would shift the burden of proof to the accused in any campus adjudicatory procedure, and the mere accusation could suffice as proof of sexual assault. This new procedure would violate the basic right that students have to the presumption of innocence.

“The sexual assault policy is what the University of Minnesota will use to determine whether students have committed serious crimes,“ notes SAVE spokesperson Sheryle Hutter. “It is important that the policy is carefully vetted so that students and the campus adjudicatory panel are not left more confused as to what the university mandates.”

The full letter to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents can be found here: http://www.saveservices.org/2015/07/save-letter-to-university-of-minnesota-board-of-regents/

 

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments – SAVE — promotes evidence-based solutions to the problem of sexual assault: http://www.saveservices.org/sexual-assault/