Congress can still approve these 2 campus sexual assault bills before January
One in five women are sexually assaulted while attending college. Earlier this year, we read the letter from Emily Doe about her rape and witnesses the lack of punishment her rapist, Brock Turner, received for his actions. Back in 2014, we watched Emma Sulkowicz carry a 50-pound mattress around Columbia University’s campus, all the way to graduation ceremony. The mattress, symbolizing the burden she carried, was her form of protest after Columbia failed to expel her rapist.
There are two bills currently sitting in Congress that could significantly decrease sexual violence on campus and provide the necessary support for survivors. These two bills, the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) Campus Sexual Violence Act and the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, are awaiting a vote. This vote can happen during the current session of Congress, before Trump and the new representatives take office in January.
The HALT Campus Sexual Violence Act amends the Department of Education Organization Act to require the Department of Education to publicly disclose the list of institutions under investigation, or disclose the sanctions issued after an investigation. The bill would also increase the funding for Title IX and the Clery Act, which both state that no person can be denied on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation, or be subject to discrimination under any education program receiving Federal financial assistance. The bill was introduced by by Reps. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., in June 2015.
The Campus Accountability and Safety Act establishes new campus resources and support to student sexual violence survivors. It also ensures that institutional staff meet the minimum training standards to address sexual assault cases. The bill puts an emphasis on creating transparency. This bill was reintroduced in the upper congressional chamber by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., in February 2015.
If You're Itching to Take Action - You Can!
Hold Politicians Accountable with IssueVoter
Staying up to date on the HALT Campus Sexual Violence Act and the Campus Accountability and Safety Act is possible through IssueVoter. Sign up and then “support” both the bills. Doing so will let your local representatives know how their constituents want them to vote on the bill. IssueVoter is also a way to track your representatives' votes and bill outcomes – heping hold politicians accountable.
If You're a Student or Professor, Bring Change to Your Campus
If you're on campus, talk with your student government association or administration to learn more about any programs to teach students about campus sexual assault. If there aren’t programs in place, you can work with your university to create them, or take action with something as simple as passing out pamphlets with information on where sexual assault victims can receive help.
Take a Pledge To End Campus Sexual Assault
Take the pledge to end campus sexual assault with It’s On Us, an organization dedicated to changing the culture around campus sexual assault. Their website has video and information on how to get donate. If you are engaged and passionate about ending campus sexual violence, then speak out, get involved, and most importantly: get educated.
By Maria Yuan and Lisa Crocco
Full disclosure: Maria Yuan is affiliated with IssueVoter, mentioned in this article.