Campus sexual assault bill sent to Gov. Brown

Governor Jerry Brown has helped sign into law a number of notable anti-sexual assault bills such as the “yes means yes” law in 2009. (NASA HQ/Creative Commons)

Governor Jerry Brown has helped sign into law a number of notable anti-sexual assault bills such as the “yes means yes” law in 2009. (NASA HQ/Creative Commons)

New legislation designed to combat rape cases on campus passed last Wednesday in the California assembly of voters. Having been approved by the assembly and the senate, the bill has been sent for review to Governor Jerry Brown who will decide to approve or deny the mandate.

According to the official California Legislation Information website, the bill, going under the name SB 186, would “authorize the governing board of a community college district to remove, suspend, or expel a student for sexual assault or sexual exploitation.”

Currently community colleges are limited. Under state law, they are only able to deal with students who have engaged in sexual assault under specific circumstances. What’s more they can only be penalized if the act took place during college activity and while attending a college session.

If passed, the bill would invalidate these limitations. Community colleges would be allowed to apply them to students without hindrance and to attacks that weren’t on college grounds or related to college activity.

In a statement first recorded by the Los Angeles Times, Brian Maienschien, the bill’s co-author, claims that this bill would make community colleges legal equal with public colleges and universities in their dealings with sexual assault.

“This bill is not asking community colleges to do anything other than what other California Colleges and universities are required to do,” said Maienschien.

Juan Avalos, Vice President of student services at Saddleback College, disagreed with this when reached for a comment. Avalos said that this mandate creates uncertainty and potential problems due to how it will be implemented.

“We’re not required to impose a specific sanction for that issue,” said Avalos. “Right now, if you look up and down the state, the colleges have discretion on what disciplinary action to implement on a case by case basis.”

Avalos says the measure, if passed, would turn community colleges into legal court systems. Avalos believes this is something community colleges shouldn’t be.

“Most disciplinary cases run parallel to one another. If the issue has a legal component, that component runs down the legal side and if it has a college component it runs parallel… the question becomes what happens when the two merge?”

Linda Fontanilla, Vice President of student services at Irvine Valley College, shared Avalos’s concerns about the when contacted. She also added it doesn’t address a bigger issue: the lack of student awareness regarding this issue and the laws meant to attack it.

“We [the college] will follow the law. We will not be out of compliance with the law. But there are a lot of voices on campus that need to be heard on campus about the seriousness of this and there are a lot of people who need to be educated.”

SB 186 is part of a package of bills currently being reviewed by California Legislature that are aimed at dealing with sexual assault on campus. Several other bills are currently pending approval by California legislators according to the Los Angeles Times.