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What the Senate can do to fight campus sexual assault

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“Pass the Campus Accountability and Safety Act.”

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    What the Senate can do to fight campus sexual assault

    Sexual assault on campus is a national crisis. One in five college women will be sexually assaulted before graduation, and over 100 colleges are under investigation by the federal government for mishandling cases of assault.

    Despite the alarming statistics, current federal law actually encourages colleges to underreport assaults, and provides no real penalties for schools that try to sweep sexual assaults under the rug.

    Fortunately, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced legislation that would close these gaps. The Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which has bipartisan support, would increase support, training and accountability, and make campuses safer places for students.

    Tell the Senate: Pass the Campus Accountability and Safety Act.

    A recent study shows that there may be up to 30,000 sexual assaults on college campuses a year, yet in 2013, only 5,000 were reported by schools to the federal government. In fact, in the last five years, more than 40 percent of colleges have not investigated a single sexual assault case.

    Here are some of the ways the Campus Accountability and Safety Act will help make needed change:

    Real penalties: Current penalties for schools that fail to address sexual assault on campus have no real teeth. The only allowable penalty for a Title IX violation is the loss of all federal funding, which is so extreme it will never be used. This bill creates a penalty of up to 1 percent of a school’s operating budget for Title IX violations, and increases penalties for schools that violate the Clery Act’s reporting requirements.

    Increased transparency: Mandates anonymous, standardized surveys of students at every school in the country, with results published online. The Department of Education would also be required to publish names of any school under investigation or with a resolved case.

    Uniform discipline process: Requires one consistent disciplinary process, prohibiting schools from allowing athletic departments or other campus groups to investigate and discipline their own members.

    Minimum training standards for school staff: Requires training to ensure that under- or untrained campus personnel don’t negatively interfere with sexual assault investigations or disciplinary proceedings.

    More than 30 senators, from both parties, have already signed on in support of this bill. It’s time for the Senate to pass this important legislation and help fight the epidemic of campus sexual assault.

    Thanks for everything you do.