Newsday | October 6, 2014
by Cathy Young
California enacted an unprecedented "Yes Means Yes" law last month requiring institutions of higher education to evaluate complaints of sexual assault under an "affirmative consent" standard to qualify for state funding.
Now, it seems that New York is set to follow down the same path: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said last week he had instructed the State University of New York to adopt similar policies on its 64 campuses, as the first step toward a statewide law that would apply to all colleges and universities.
The intent -- to do a better job of preventing and responding to campus rape -- is unquestionably laudable. But "affirmative consent" is a spectacularly misguided way to achieve this. These laws not only attempt to micromanage the sex lives of young adults to an absurdly intrusive degree, they also create a high risk of trampling the rights of accused students, and trivialize rape by blurring the lines between assault and miscommunication.