What do you define as a “sexual assault”?  I believe that is the first question that must be answered before you can make a statement that 1 in 5 girls are being sexually assaulted on Michigan colleges and university campuses.

A Michigan Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. (D – East Lansing) has introduced Senate Bill 620 titled Yes Means Yes to amend the 1976 PA 451 bill, entitled "The revised school code".

Back on October 10, 2017 Senator Hertel wrote a piece and published on senatedemocrats.com in which he stated:

College-aged women are four times more likely than any other age group to face sexual assault…When we send our kids off to college, we should worry about their grades and how they are going to pay for their books, not if they will be sexually assaulted.

He then wrote a piece published on senatedemocrats.com with no publishing date in which he stated:

One in five college women will be sexually assaulted before graduation, and it’s clear our universities aren’t doing enough to solve the problem.

Whichever one is correct do you really believe that 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 of girls attending Michigan colleges are being “sexual assaulted”?

According to the Unites States Department of Justice “sexual assault” is defined as:

The term “sexual assault” means any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by Federal, tribal, or State law, including when the victim lacks capacity to consent.

A state of Michigan website defines “sexual assault”as:

Sexual assault (often known as rape) is forcing or coercing an individual to engage in any non-consensual sexual contact or sexual penetration. In Michigan, the law regarding sexual assault is called the Criminal Sexual Conduct Act. It is gender neutral and includes marital, stranger, date, acquaintance, and child sexual assault.

There are four degrees of criminal sexual conduct. First and third degrees involve forced or coerced penetration. This can involve vaginal, anal or oral intercourse, or putting a finger or object in another person's genital or anal opening.

The second and fourth degrees involve forced or coerced sexual contact. This includes touching the groin, genital area, inner thighs, buttocks, breasts or the clothing covering these parts.

Now let us move onto what is “sexual contact”, according to Michigan law it is:

"(q) "Sexual contact" includes the intentional touching of the victim's or actor's intimate parts or the intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the victim's or actor's intimate parts, if that intentional touching can reasonably be construed as being for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, done for a sexual purpose, or in a sexual manner for:

(i) Revenge.

(ii) To inflict humiliation.

(iii) Out of anger."

Why am I first focusing on the above definitions, because I find it hard to believe that there are anywhere between 20% and 25% of our daughters that are being “sexual assaulted” as defined, on Michigan campuses.  My concern is how loosely defined are people using the term “sexual assault.

There are pundits, politicians and colleges that are defining “sexual assault” as the unwanted touch of an arm or shoulder.

This is important because we may be spreading a very negative false narrative about Michigan colleges and universities.  The city of Detroit had 579 rapes and 9,882 aggravated assaults in 2016, the population of Detroit in 2016 was approximately 673,000.  That would give us a sexual assault and aggravated assault rate of 1.5%.

Now onto the Yes Means Yes bill, I am not against instituting something like this but as usual the devil is always in the details.  What will they teach and how will the children and teenagers perceive it?

Senate Bill 620 would require Michigan schools to teach affirmative consent where sexual education is available. It also would do the following:

  • Clarifies that silence and lack of resistance do not constitute consent;
  • That consent can be rescinded at any point during the sexual encounter; and,
  • That the existence of a relationship between two people doesn’t imply consent.

If someone is silent during the engagement of a “sexual” act how is this to be interpreted by one party or the other?

Are you asking that the teachers of these sexual education classes inform their students that they must stop what they are doing and ask for permission or consent?

If so should a “contract” be signed?  I do not ask that question flippantly, if at a later date a male or female goes to the authorities and says I never gave consent or said no I was simply silent.  What is the police or colleges supposed to do?

Let us find out more when I interview Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. (D–East Lansing) on the Live with Renk Show today.