U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Arlen Specter (D-PA) today introduced legislation to combat the problem of sexual violence on college campuses. The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act) will close a serious gap in the law by requiring colleges and universities to clearly spell out their policies regarding sexual assault and intimate partner violence.
"Sexual violence is a tragic and harsh reality on college campuses throughout the country," said Senator Casey. "We must ensure that when we send our sons and daughters off to colleges and universities, we are providing every means necessary for them to learn in a safe environment."
"The existence of sexual violence on our college campuses is a problem that must be addressed," said Senator Specter. "This bill will allow students to be better informed of occurrences of sexual violence on their campuses, and will empower them to take action to protect themselves and others when it does occur."
Sexual assaults and intimate partner violence are serious problems on college campuses.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 20 to 25 percent of female undergraduates will be the victim of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault this year and in nearly all cases it will be by an acquaintance.
The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act) will close a serious gap in the law by requiring colleges and universities to clearly spell out their policies regarding sexual assault and intimate partner violence. The Campus SaVe Act will address sexual assault and intimate partner violence and increase awareness and prevention of these acts of violence by requiring transparency of information, prevention programs and assistance for victims.
The bill amends Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require each institution of higher education participating in a title IV program, except foreign schools, to:
* Include in its annual security report a statement of policy regarding its sexual assault and other intimate partner violence programs and the procedures it follows when such an offense occurs.
* Explain in writing students' rights anytime a student reports being a victim of sexual violence, including stalking, dating or domestic violence. This would include a student's right to notify law enforcement, to receive help from the school to report the incident and to obtain a protective order from a local court.
* Explain to students the school's obligation to help enforce those protective orders.
* Start teaching bystander education -- a prevention strategy that focuses on teaching male and female students alike that they can prevent sexual assaults and that they have a responsibility to do so.
* Direct the Secretary of Education to seek the Attorney General's counsel regarding the development, and dissemination to schools, of best practices for preventing and responding to sex offenses and other intimate partner violence.
This legislation has been endorsed by Security on Campus, a national non-profit organization focused on improving security on college campuses based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Congressman Tom Perriello (D- VA) introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives earlier this year.