Students rally for “Yes Mean Yes” bill to curb crisis of campus sexual assault in Maryland
Annapolis, MD – Over 100 college students are expected to gather on Lawyer’s Mall this Monday calling for new state policy to address the high rates of sexual assault on their campuses. The “Yes Means Yes” bill would mandate all colleges in the state of Maryland to adopt to use an affirmative consent policy in how they define sexual assault. The bill is being introduced into the state legislature, as four colleges in Maryland face federal investigation for their mishandling of sexual assault cases.
The rally will begin at 6:15pm on Monday Feb 29th at Lawyers Mall in Downtown Annapolis with a display of stories from survivors of campus sexual assault told through the public art project The Monument Quilt. By stitching survivors’ stories together, the quilt is building a new narrative of rape and abuse in the US and transforming the US from a culture that publicly shames survivors to a culture that publicly supports them. The rally will include speeches from law-makers, students and survivors of sexual assault starting at 7:30pm. Expected to speak are Del Morales (D), Del Miller, Del Hettlemen, Del Luedtke, students from Morgan state, students from Johns Hopkins and anti-violence advocates.
Morgan state student Kiara James has this to say about the importance of the legislation, “A woman is sexual assaulted in the US every 107 seconds. Women ages 18-24 enrolled in higher education are three times more likely to fall into this category. The reason for this legislation is clear. Affirmative consent policies for every Maryland higher education institution is not just a good idea, it is obligatory.”
Affirmative consent is a verbal agreement about how and when people are comfortable engaging in sexual acts. According to the bill, consent cannot be given if someone is intoxicated, under coercion, or while someone is unconscious.
1 in 5 women will be raped while attending college, while the majority of US undergrads are women. Getting a bachelor’s degree in the US actually increases a woman’s chance of experiencing rape in her lifetime. “Going to school should make it more likely for you to get a good job, not more likely to experience sexual assault,” says Force Co-Director Rebecca Nagle. 95% of all campus sexual assaults go unreported.
“It is time for the Maryland legislature to stand with survivors of sexual assault, as they stand against a system that continues to fail them,” say Del Morales (D), the bill’s sponsor.
The rally and quilt display are being organized by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture. FORCE is an art and advocacy organization working to upset the dominant culture of rape and to promote a counter culture based on consent.
Please note this event has been rescheduled from Feb 15th due to weather.