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Karen Fiss

In California, where I live, an affirmative consent law was recently passed: often referred to as the “yes means yes” standard for sexual assault, it is now required of all colleges receiving state funds. Supporters of the law argue that campus rapists can no longer be exonerated because their victims did not resist or were incapacitated by fear, shame, or intoxication. On the other side of the country, a student at Columbia University became an icon in this ongoing legal struggle by carrying her mattress around with her everywhere, including to her graduation, as a sign of protest against the university’s refusal to expel the male student who raped her.