Ayotte introduces bill to curb sexual assaults on campus
From left, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Anna, a survivor of sexual assault, appear at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 30, 2014, to discuss "Campus Accountability and Safety Act" that is before the Senate. Anna was an 18 year old student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in central New York when she was sexually assaulted by fellow students at a fraternity party, just three weeks into her freshman year. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte introduced bipartisan legislation yesterday intended to help prevent campus sexual assault and provide better support for victims.
The bill “will make it in the schools’ immediate best interest to take proactive steps to protect their students and rid their campuses of sexual predators,” according to a press release from Ayotte’s office.
The release cited data from the U.S. Department of Education that indicates that college women are at a higher risk of being sexually assaulted than peers who do not attend college.
“When it comes to stopping sexual violence on campus, we need accountability, transparency, and uniformity of standards – not the patchwork approach we have now,” Ayotte, a Republican, said in the press release.
Other co-sponsors of the bill are Republican Sens. Dean Hiller of Nevada, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Marco Rubio of Florida, and Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Mark Warner of Virginia.
Under the proposed legislation, anonymous, standardized surveys about experiences with sexual violence will be mandated for all college students and results will be published online so parents and high school students can use them in the college search process. Schools that fail to comply with certain requirements of the federal Clery Act and Title IX may face stricter penalties – up to 1 percent of their operating budgets. The previous penalty was limited to the loss of all financial aid, “which is not practical and has never been done,” according to the release.
Schools would no longer be able to sanction students who reveal violations like underage drinking in the process of reporting sexual violence. The bill also mandates minimum training standards for on-campus personnel and requires schools to use a uniform process for campus disciplinary proceedings instead of allowing athletic departments or other subgroups to handle complaints independently.
(Ann Marie Jakubowski can be reached at 369-3302 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AMJakubowski.)