Legislation Takes a New Stance on Sexual Assault

U.S. Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA) introduced legislation last week to combat sexual assault on college campuses, Inside Higher Ed reported.

"No student should have to fear sexual assault on campus and no parent should fear their child is in danger when they send them to college," Rep. Meehan said in a written statement. "As a prosecutor, I worked closely with the victims of sexual assault on campus and I saw firsthand the need to improve protections for survivors. This legislation takes sensible steps forward to strengthen protections for victims and it will help them access the resources they need in the wake of attack."

The Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency on Campus Sexual Violence Act (HALT Act) takes a markedly different approach, in some ways, from the much-discussed bill from U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

The HALT Act would allow students to bring civil lawsuits against colleges that violate the Clery Act; provide $5 million per year in additional funding to the Department of Education's understaffed Office for Civil Rights; require more safety notifications for students; and create an interagency task force to increase coordination between the agencies dealing with campus sexual assault.

The legislation echoes Gillibrand and McCaskill's Campus Accountability and Safety Act on a few key points. It would require the department to disclose federal investigations and findings; increase penalties for Clery violations; require the department to issue stiff penalties for colleges that fail to comply with the nondiscrimination law Title IX; and mandate biennial campus climate surveys.


Related Links

U.S. Representative Jackie Speier's Press Release


Inside Higher Ed