More than 50 colleges and universities in the U.S. have open sexual violence investigations.
Senators are taking a firm stance against campus sexual assault and with new legislation unveiled Wednesday morning, they are requiring colleges to do the same.
The new legislation, titled “The Campus Accountability and Safety Act,” will require colleges to use one uniform process for campus disciplinary proceedings, and work with law enforcement agencies when handling cases of sexual assault. The law would also require colleges to have “confidential advisors,” who will be confidential resources for students who may have experienced an assault.
The bill, introduced by eight U.S. senators, will also push transparency on campus sexual assault cases to the forefront. The bill reads: “Currently, an American woman who attends college is more likely to be a victim of sexual assault than a woman who does not attend college. At the same time, institutions of higher education across the country do not have an incentive to acknowledge the problem publicly or address it proactively. The current oversight of the federal laws has the perverse effect of encouraging colleges to under-report sexual assaults.”
Under this new legislation, colleges are no longer allowed to hide. And to put even more pressure on the universities, there will be an anonymous survey issued every year to all university students in the United States. The results of this survey will be published online. The Department of Education will also publish the list of all the schools with open investigations relating to Title IX, which bans gender discrimination within educational programs that receive federal funding. As of May of this year, there are 55 colleges that occupy the list.
Senators believe this aspect of the law will help parents and high school students to make informed decisions about where they will begin their pursuit of higher education.
Senators hope this bill will curb sexual assault and ensure students that they are protected on campus and that their voices will not be silenced.
"With this bill, we are flipping the incentives," Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the supporters of the bill, said. "Underreporting will have stiff fines and real teeth."