Congress Introduces Legislation to Protect Students from Sexual Assault
A bipartisan group of Senators introduced a bill Wednesday that aims to address the issue of sexual assault on college campuses.
The Campus Accountability and Safety Act, cosponsored by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Dean Heller (R-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), focuses on steps colleges can take to proactively protect students. The bill specifically aims to establish new campus resources and support services for student survivors, ensure minimum training standards for on-campus personnel, create transparency requirements, increase campus accountability and coordination with law enforcement, and establish enforceable Title IX and Clery Act violation penalties. It will require colleges to designate a Confidential Advisor, conduct annual surveys to identify the scope of the problem, and use a uniform process for campus disciplinary proceedings, among other requirements.
"To curb these crimes, students need to be protected and empowered, and institutions must provide the highest level of responsiveness in helping hold perpetrators fully accountable," said Senator McCaskill in a press release. "That's what our legislation aims to accomplish."
To develop the bill, McCaskill surveyed 440 institutions of higher education, held roundtable discussions with key stakeholders, and produced a survey report of her findings. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced a bipartisan companion bill in the House on Thursday.
Several other pieces of legislation have been introduced to protect students and hold attackers accountable. The Survivor Outreach and Support Campus Act (S.O.S. Campus Act), sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA) in the House, focuses on requiring colleges and universities to establish an independent, on-campus advocate to support survivors. The advocate would be responsible for ensuring that survivors of sexual assault have access to emergency care and information on their legal rights. Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) with Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) also introduced the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) on Campus Sexual Assault Act.
Media Resources: Senator McCaskill 7/9/14, 7/30/14; The Center for Public Integrity 7/31/14; USA Today 7/31/14; Senator Barbara Boxer 7/30/14; Congresswoman Jackie Speier 7/30/14; Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney 7/31/14