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Senators Introduce Campus Sexual Assault Legislation

July 31, 2014

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​A bipartisan group of eight senators, led by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), unveiled a bill Wednesday morning aimed at mitigating sexual assaults on college campuses.

Under the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA), all colleges and universities in the country would be required to survey students about their experiences with sexual violence, the results of which would be published online. Institutions also would be required to designate confidential advisors to coordinate support services for survivors of sexual assault.

Other provisions include:

  • All campus personnel who investigate sexual assaults and participate in disciplinary hearings would be required to undergo specialized training.
  • New, streamlined procedures would take power away from athletic departments to handle investigations of athletes accused of assault.
  • Campuses would be required to create memorandums of understanding with local law enforcement to clarify responsibilities and better share information.
  • Institutions would not be allowed to sanction students who reveal a violation such as underage drinking in the course of reporting a sexual assault.

Colleges that do not comply with the new rules could face fines of up to 1 percent of their operating budgets. The bill would also increase the maximum penalty for a violation of the Clery Act from $35,000 to $150,000.

In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, ACE’s Terry Hartle said that while colleges would embrace efforts in the bill to clarify who is a confidential adviser on a campus, they had concerns about large parts of the legislation.

“On balance, this is a pretty heavy-handed approach that starts with an assumption that more detailed federal requirements will solve this very difficult problem of campus sexual assault,” he said.

The bill’s other sponsors include Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Dean Heller (R-NV), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mark Warner (D-VA). Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) plans to introduce an identical bill in the House.  

ACE looks forward to working with the lawmakers in the coming months on legislation that will help provide the safest possible campuses for students.

As Hartle told The Associated Press, "We desperately want to do the right thing, but we need to know what that is, and we need enough flexibility to meet the needs of each individual, unique case.”

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