Bipartisan coalition of House members introduce Campus Accountability and Safety Act to combat sexual assault at colleges and universities
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan coalition of 18 House members today introduced the House version of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act. The legislation mirrors a bill introduced in the Senate yesterday, which takes aim at sexual assaults on college and university campuses by protecting and empowering students, strengthening accountability and transparency for institutions and establishing stiff penalties for non-compliance with the legislation’s new standards for training, data and best practices.
The House effort is being championed by a bipartisan coalition led by Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Ted Poe (R-TX), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Susan Brooks (R-IN), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Renee Ellmers (R-NC), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tom Reed (R-NY), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Kristi Noem (R-SD), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), David Joyce (OH-14), Annie Kuster (D-NH), and Gary Peters (D-MI).
The bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act will make it in the schools’ immediate best interest to take proactive steps to protect their students and rid their campuses of sexual predators.
“The way colleges and universities currently address sexual assault is failing students,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “We have to do more to prevent sexual assaults, empower survivors and ensure that academic institutions are responsive to the needs of students. I applaud the work of our colleagues in the Senate. They have crafted a comprehensive and bipartisan bill. I am hopeful that the House will take up this effort in tandem with the Senate so that we can put a bill on the President’s desk.”
“The current patchwork of federal law and regulation is not sufficient to address sexual assault on American campuses” said Congressman Patrick Meehan. “This bipartisan legislation strengthens the partnership between schools and law enforcement. It enhances training standards for on-campus personnel. And it will help victims access confidential advisors who can provide support in the wake of an assault. It’s an important step forward in the effort to protect our kids on campus and support victims. I would like to thank the members of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Campus Violence Advisory Council for their input and experience, which informed many of the provisions of this bill.”
“I am proud to be a part of this bipartisan initiative to combat the sexual assault crisis we are grappling with on America’s college campuses,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. “No student should live in fear of being the victim of such violence. Our bill takes important steps to protect students, empower survivors, and hold perpetrators fully accountable in a coordinated and consistent way across campuses from coast to coast. Sexual assault is a staggeringly common and underreported crime, and our effort will make important strides toward putting an end to these crimes and ensuring its survivors are not being swept under the rug.”
"More must be done to address the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses," Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said. "This bill will create a safer environment at our universities. It will ensure schools provide essential resources for victims, like confidential advisers and well-trained campus personnel. As reports of sexual assault increase, universities need to respond with policies that create a greater system of accountability and transparency to prevent future attacks. I am pleased to cosponsor legislation that will make our college campuses more secure for all students."
“It’s vital that universities have the resources and information necessary to adequately address the issue of sexual assault on college campuses,” Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks said. “This legislation represents a concerted effort to ensure our schools have helpful guidance and useful standards enabling them to effectively counsel victims in a confidential manner and implement adequate disciplinary proceedings. I’m especially pleased that those who oversee sexual assault cases will be provided specialized training that reflects current best practices. I look forward to continuing to work on this very important issue in a bipartisan manner to ensure safety and protection for victims of sexual assault and clarity to universities on how best to address this issue. I’d like to thank Representatives Maloney and Meehan for their leadership on this legislation.”
“Having volunteered at a rape crisis center on a college campus, I have seen firsthand the toll this terrible crime takes on our students and their friends and loved ones. The need for congressional action is clear – no student on a college campus should live in fear of being attacked. This bipartisan legislation takes clear steps to help those affected by sexual assault, to educate campus personnel to respond compassionately, and to strengthen law enforcement response. By working together, we can help put a stop to rape and sexual assault on college campuses nationwide,” Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito said.
“We must empower every student with adequate and fair resources so they feel safe on campus and are protected against victimization,” said Congressman Tom Reed. “This bill will expand resources for students, demand accountability and transparency from colleges and strengthen penalties for a school’s misconduct. These initiatives will help bring sexual assault on campuses to the forefront of the conversation at the national level – something that is long overdue. These are our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews – we need to make sure they are safe and cared for.”
“As a former prosecutor and the father of two daughters in college, I want to do all I can to stop the sexual assault epidemic on our campuses,” said Congressman David Joyce. “This bipartisan bill will help protect our kids by ensuring that these crimes are not only fully prosecuted but prevented.”
“My oldest daughter will begin her Junior year of college in a little over a month and I, like any other parent, want to make sure I do everything I can to ensure she’s safe,” said Congresswoman Kristi Noem. “This legislation empowers our students, strengthens accountability measures, and takes steps toward ending this horrible crime. Our students just shouldn’t have to worry about becoming a victim at school.”
“College campuses should be places that foster learning and not places where the safety of young women is at an increased risk,” said Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins. “As a mother, this issue has become very personal to me and I am glad that both Republicans and Democrats have been able to come together to develop these sensible measures that will increase transparency and accountability in reporting and more importantly work to prevent sexual assault.”
“As a mother of a college-aged student, this is an issue that is close to my heart. Parents across the country have enough to worry about when sending their children to college,” said Congresswoman Renee Ellmers. “They should at a minimum know that their sons and daughters are in a safe environment. As chair of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee, I believe it is imperative that we address the problem of sexual assault and this is one step in doing so.”
“This bi partisan legislation aims at making our college campuses safer so that students can learn in a secure environment and parents can have peace of mind,” said Congresswoman Lois Frankel.
“Recently we have seen troubling statistics about campus sexual assault and stories of mishandled or unreported sexual assault cases in the media,” said Congresswoman Gwen Moore. “It is important that we remember that each number is a victim and represents a daughter, a sister or a friend. As mother and a grandmother, I strongly support CASA, which would require sexual assault training for on-campus personnel, establish confidential advisors to serve as support for survivors, and impose higher penalties on non-compliant universities.”
“No student should ever fear for his or her safety on the college campus they call home, and Congress must do more to ensure schools are working to prevent assaults from occurring and are providing important protections for victims,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “I’m proud to work with my colleagues from across the aisle to help introduce this crucial piece of legislation, which will move us forward towards finding a solution to this crisis so we can stop sexual assault on campus.”
“With my older daughter returning to college this fall for her sophomore year, this issue is deeply personal for me,” said Congressman Gary Peters. “We need to work to create a safe and secure educational environment for all our children. This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that colleges and universities are taking proactive steps to protect their students and support the victims of sexual assault.”
Provisions of the bipartisan legislation include:
- New Campus Resources and Support Services for Student Survivors: Under this legislation, colleges and universities will be required to designate Confidential Advisors who will serve as a confidential resource for victims of assaults committed against a student. The role of Confidential Advisors will be to coordinate support services and accommodations for survivors, to provide information about options for reporting, and to provide guidance or assistance, at the direction of the survivor, in reporting the crime to campus authorities and/or local law enforcement. To encourage individuals to come forward with reports about sexual violence, schools will no longer be allowed to sanction a student who reveals a violation in good faith, such as underage drinking, in the process of reporting a sexual violence claim.
- Minimum Training Standards for On-Campus Personnel: Currently, a chronic lack of training of on-campus personnel hampers sexual assault investigations and disciplinary processes, often resulting in negative outcomes for survivors. This legislation ensures that everyone from the Confidential Advisors, to those responsible for investigating and participating in disciplinary proceedings, will now receive specialized training to ensure they have a firm understanding of the nature of these crimes and their effect on survivors.
- New Historic Transparency Requirements: For the first time, students at every university in America will be surveyed about their experience with sexual violence to get an accurate picture of this problem. This new annual survey will be standardized and anonymous, with the results published online so that parents and high school students can make an informed choice when comparing universities. The Department of Education will also be required to publish the names of all schools with pending investigations, final resolutions, and voluntary resolution agreements related to Title IX.
- Campus Accountability and Coordination with Law Enforcement: All schools will now be required to use a uniform process for campus disciplinary proceedings and may no longer allow athletic departments or other subgroups to handle complaints of sexual violence for members of that subgroup alone. This legislation will require colleges and universities to enter into memoranda of understanding with all applicable local law enforcement agencies to clearly delineate responsibilities and share information so that when an assault occurs, both campus authorities and local authorities can focus on solving the crime rather than debating jurisdiction.
- Enforceable Title IX Penalties and Stiffer Penalties for Clery Act Violations: Schools that don’t comply with certain requirements under the bill may face a penalty of up to 1% of the institution’s operating budget. Previously, the only allowable penalty was the loss of all financial aid which is not practical and has never been done. The bill increases penalties for Clery Act violations to up to $150,000 per violation from the current penalty of $35,000.