Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s Senate Bill 186 (SB 186) passed the senate floor with a unanimous 63-0 bipartisan vote on Monday.
SB 186, introduced by Jackson in February, would allow California community colleges to discipline students for off-campus sexual assault and sexual exploitation violations. The bill successfully passed through the senate and currently awaits approval by Governor Jerry Brown, who can sign it into law. University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) campuses currently have jurisdiction to expel, suspend or enact disciplinary action on students who commit sexual assault, but not the authority to punish students for incidents that happen off campus grounds.
Jackson said the bill’s success was backed by the common understanding that all college students from UCs, CSUs and community colleges should be held accountable for crimes such as sexual assault.
“I think, clearly, if everyone has to meet to the same standards, there won’t be the sense that someone can get away with something that another can’t,” Jackson said. “So there’s going to be accountability, and hopefully there will be disciplinary action in both circumstances.”
According to Jackson, the bill mandates punishments such as expulsion and suspension for students found guilty of sexual assault regardless of whether or not the incident happened within or outside of campus boundaries.
“We will be monitoring this to make sure that disciplinary proceedings are effective and are pursued when there are allegations of rape and sexual assault,” Jackson said. “It is my expectation that I have discussed with the universities that they will follow this law and abide by it.”
Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) President Lori Gaskin said the unanimous passage of the bill gives the administration jurisdiction to punish crimes that happen outside of campus to ensure the safety of the student body.
“Our first priority is for student safety,” Gaskin said. “We do not tolerate violations of our college student code of conduct on any of our three campuses, and this measure would extend that authority for sexual assault and other serious student misconduct outside our campus boundaries.”
Gaskin said she hopes the concerns of students and administration will continue to be heard regarding issues concerning safety.
“We thank Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, who proposed this specific bill, and will continue to work with our local elected officials to ensure safety on all our local college campuses,” Gaskin said.
Former Gaucho Consent coordinator and alumna major Lexi Weyrick said if community colleges have procedures in place to properly adjudicate accused students, then the bill is a “no-brainer.”
“Students are agreeing to a code of conduct when they attend school, just like at UCSB, and if students violate that code, it is absolutely within the school’s rights to take action as they see fit,” Weyrick said. “This bill simply gives community colleges the ability to act within those rights in regard to sexual violence, which makes sense.”
According to Weyrick, the bill will ensure both UCSB and SBCC students who live in Isla Vista are on the same page regarding discipline for sexual assault.
“I think SB 186 opens the door for greater communication between UCSB and SBCC regarding sexual violence that occurs in Isla Vista which has been very inconsistent in the past,” Weyrick said.
Jackson said it is important to inform students of tolerable behavior, and SB 186 would hold students accountable for sexual assault just as they would be held accountable for academic issues such as plagiarism.
“Part of the whole issue here is empowering victims and educating students both male and female about what is acceptable and not-acceptable behavior,” Jackson said. “Colleges can expel students for things like plagiarism, so if they have the tools and procedures in place to deal with that kind of behavior, then they should certainly have the tools to discipline students for behavior as serious as rape or sexual assault.”