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Will UMN's Proposed "Yes Means Yes" Policy Actually Catch Rapists?

Bad form, sailor.

Bad form, sailor.

Probably not.

But then again, jailing rapists may not be the ultimate goal of the University of Minnesota's proposed "yes means yes" bedroom rule.

For a long time, the litmus test for rape was whether one partner said "no" to sex, only to be ignored. Yet considering how natural it is for victims to freeze up in the moment, University of Minnesota's student government is now trying to decide whether mandating verbal consent at every stage of a sexual encounter will make campus safer.

See also: Marie Mielke, Clergy Abuse Accuser, Comes Forward with Her Identity

The basic premise of talking so much during sex is definitely making people sweat. Fundamental libertarians and the socially challenged alike are wondering how far policies like this could go in making sex even more awkward than it already is, and whether it will lead to more rape allegations against young men who honestly meant no harm.

The case for "yes means yes" comes from a burgeoning number of sexual harassment lawsuits aimed at colleges across the country for basically treating rape accusers like shit.

There's Columbia University's Emma Sulkowicz, who famously vowed to carry her mattress everywhere she goes in protest of the seriously twisted questions administrators asked during her hearing. There's the University of Oregon student who claimed administrators botched her investigation in favor of protecting the three basketball players she accused. There's the Northwestern University senior who sued the school for failing to discipline a professor even after an internal investigation found that he got her drunk and made unwanted advances.

University of Minnesota student president Joelle Stangler says the policy would give survivors the benefit of the doubt going into an investigation.

No doubt the type of cultural overhaul required of asking people to narrate their every action in bed will take a lot of work for our student consent crusaders. But is it inadvertently easing the pressure on schools themselves to yank malicious serial rapists from classrooms?

The University of Minnesota currently has an internal rape reporting system built to avoid the legal process. Instead, school investigators hear both sides and make a judgement. Stangler says this system, though well-meaning, deters her peers from bringing their complaints to the cops. No criminal charge is another common pitfall in establishing a victim's credibility down the line.

"We really need more legal convictions, making sure that the university process makes the correct decision," Stangler said. "Pulling perpetrators out of the system, to me that's the end goal."

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