Proposed bill looks to prevent rape on CT college campuses - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Proposed bill looks to prevent rape on CT college campuses

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The president of the state colleges and university system said there is education and a process in place to help students. But, there needs to be more communication. (WFSB) The president of the state colleges and university system said there is education and a process in place to help students. But, there needs to be more communication. (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Connecticut lawmakers are considering a bill aimed at preventing rape and sexual assault on college campuses.

The bill defines "affirmative consent" and it encourages students to understand non-verbal communication.

College sophomore Olivia Paschal supports the bill, which takes a new approach at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses.

"It doesn't have to be a conversation,” Paschal said. “It can just be being aware of how your partner is and being respectful of who the person you are engaging in sexual activity and how they are feeling."

The president of the state colleges and university system said there is education and a process in place to help students. But, there needs to be more communication.

The bill would create a different legal standard for public and private schools. One that doesn't rely only on "no means no," but that we should also rely on body language and nonverbal communication.

“It also allows us to be in more proactive conversations about sexual conversations on our college campuses,” President of the Board of Regents Mark E. Ojakian said.

But, Stephan Mendelsohn has some concerns with what's being proposed by lawmakers. She has autism and said those with autism don't understand social cues.

"A nonverbal cue, not a direct "no" and the person doesn't get it and the other person charges them with sexual assault,” Mendelsohn said.

The University of Connecticut was recently sued by a group of young women who said they were sexually assaulted, but weren't taken seriously.

Now, there is a greater focus on prevention.

“Everyone on campus needs to be aware what the policy is,” Ojakian said. “They need to be aware we support prevention of these incidents and to acknowledge that this happens."

Last fall, the state received an $800,000 federal grant. All of that money will be used to prevent sexual assault and incidents of violence on college campuses.

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