State Legislators Introduce Sexual Assault Bills

Legislators in at least 28 states introduced bills this year on the topic of sexual assault, reports Inside Higher Ed.  

According to a report by the Education Commission of the States and NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the bills fall into four primary policy themes: affirmative consent, the role of local law enforcement, transcript notation, and the role of legal counsel.

"We're seeing a recent uptick in the number and variety of legislative proposals across states that would bring change to how college administrators prevent and address sexual violence on campus," Andrew Morse, director of policy research and advocacy with NASPA, told Inside Higher Ed. "We were interested in finding out what some of the themes and nuances were across the states and what the proposals would mean in cases where they supersede federal law and guidance from the Department of Education."

For example, a bill in the Virginia Senate, which passed this year, requires employees of public and private institutions who learn of a sexual assault to report the information to the campus Title IX coordinator, who must meet with a review committee within 72 hours to discuss the case. If the committee determines that the misconduct poses further risk to the victim or the campus community, the institution is then required to report the crime to local law enforcement. California adopted similar legislation, requiring public and private institutions to report any violent crimes that occur on campus to local law enforcement. Comparable bills were introduced but defeated in Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Rhode Island.

Many state lawmakers have introduced bills that would expand the role of legal counsel in campus conduct proceedings, reported Inside Higher Ed. North Carolina and North Dakota have passed such legislation, and Massachusetts and South Carolina have tried.

Other new bills would require colleges to note on transcripts whether a student was suspended or expelled over sexual assault allegations. New York and Virginia have adopted the legislation, and it remains under consideration in Pennsylvania. Bills in California and Maryland were not adopted.

Affirmative consent policy bills have died in Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina and West Virginia.


Related Links

Inside Higher Ed