Student leaders have started an online petition urging the University of Minnesota to implement a new sexual-assault policy without delay.
The petition, on Change.org, has drawn more than 900 signatures in the hours since Wednesday's decision by President Eric Kaler to postpone the so-called "affirmative consent" rule until September because of concerns raised by members of the Board of Regents.
The rule, which is similar to those surfacing on college campuses throughout the country, would create a new definition of sexual assault at the U. It states that students could face disciplinary action, including expulsion, for sexual encounters unless both participants express consent through "clear and unambigous words and actions."
On Wednesday, Regent Michael Hsu asked for the delay after news reports about the policy, which critics have denounced as unrealistic and unfair, particularly when it comes to protecting the rights of the accused.
But the petition, created by student body president Joelle Stangler, says that students strongly support the policy change as a way of combatting sexual assault. And it urges the university to make sure it's in place by the time school starts this fall.
"This is not controversial, revolutionary, or anything other than common sense student safety," it reads. "We need this policy to be implemented on schedule and not be delayed until after September."
The rule change was poised to take effect as soon as next week, following a 30-day public comment period.