Photo Courtesy of Sen. Gillibrand’s Office
According to Sen. Gillibrand, the act forges “a path forward for survivors of sexual assault on campuses.”
By Forum Staff
A bipartisan coalition of Senators, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), recently renewed the Campus Accountability and Safety Act—legislation to combat sexual assault on college and university campuses by protecting students, promoting equity, and strengthening accountability and transparency for institutions.
According to the eight senators, the legislation would reform the way colleges and universities address and report incidents of sexual assault that occur on their campuses, and would safeguard both survivors and accused students.
“Sexual assault is pervasive and far too often colleges and universities would rather sweep it under the rug, but we can no longer turn a blind eye to this problem,” Gillibrand said. “This bipartisan bill would flip the incentives so that schools are finally held accountable. It would also help protect students and establish new resources for student survivors. Our bipartisan coalition will keep working together to pass this bill, change the status quo, and make our campuses safer.”
Key provisions of the bill include:
Establishes New Campus Resources and Support Services for Student Survivors: Colleges and universities would be required to designate Sexual Assault Response Coordinators to assist survivors of sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Schools would no longer be allowed to sanction students who report sexual violence but reveal a non-violent student conduct violation in good faith, like underage drinking.
Requires Fairness in Campus Disciplinary Process: All schools would be required to use one uniform process for campus student disciplinary proceedings and would no longer allow athletic departments or other subgroups to handle complaints.
Ensures Minimum Training Standards for On-Campus Personnel: This legislation would ensure that everyone from the Sexual Assault Response Coordinators to those responsible for investigating and participating in disciplinary proceedings receives specialized training so that they have a firm understanding of the nature of these crimes and their effect on survivors.
Creates New Transparency Requirements: Students at every college and university in the country would be surveyed about their experience with sexual violence to get an accurate picture of the problem. This new biennial survey would be standardized and confidential, with the results published online so that parents and high school students can make an informed choice when comparing universities. The Department of Education would also be required to publish the names of all schools with pending investigations, final resolutions, and voluntary resolution agreements related to Title IX with respect to sexual violence and the requirements of the Clery Act.
Campus Accountability and Coordination with Law Enforcement: This legislation would require colleges and universities to enter into memoranda of understanding with each local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction to report to a campus as a first responder to clearly delineate responsibilities and share information so that when a crime occurs, both campus authorities and local authorities can focus on solving the crime rather than debating jurisdiction.
Stiffer Penalties for Clery Act Violations: Schools that do not comply with certain requirements under the bill may face a penalty of up to one percent of the institution’s operating budget. The bill also increases penalties for Clery Act violations up to $150,000 per violation from the current penalty of $35,000.