The Campus Accountability and Safety Act

The Problem

According to reports, about 3 million college students will be assaulted this year, but less than 10 percent of these survivors will come forward to report their assault. Colleges must create an environment where more students feel comfortable coming forward to report sexual assault so that more perpetrators can be brought to justice.

Quick Facts:

  • Sexual violence is more prevalent on college campuses compared to other crimes, where college age women are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than robbed.
  • Law enforcement officials at 30 percent of institutions of higher education receive no training on how to respond to reports of sexual violence. 73 percent of institutions of higher education have no protocols on how the institution and law enforcement work together to respond to campus sexual violence.
  • Most cases of campus sexual assault are not instances of “stranger rape.” 70 percent of campus sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone the victim knows.
  • Confidential reporting options facilitate reporting of campus sexual assault to police and campus authorities.

The Solution

The bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act would flip the incentives to protect students and professionalize the response to and reporting of sexual assault. The bill would:  

Establish new campus resources and support services for student survivors: Colleges and universities would be required to designate Sexual Assault Response Coordinators to assist survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Sexual Assault Response Coordinators would coordinate support services and accommodations for survivors, provide information about options for reporting, and provide guidance or assistance – at the direction of the survivor – in reporting the crime to campus authorities and/or law enforcement. Schools would no longer be allowed to sanction students who report sexual violence but reveal a non-violent student conduct violation in good faith, like underage drinking.

Require fairness in the campus disciplinary process: All schools would be required to use one uniform process for campus student disciplinary proceedings and would no longer be allowed to have athletic departments or other subgroups handle complaints. Schools would be required to provide written notification to the accused as well as the victim of any decision to move forward with a campus disciplinary proceeding within 24 hours of that decision. The notice must include details of the complaint, a summary of the disciplinary proceeding, and the rights and due process protections available to both parties. 

Ensure minimum training standards for on-campus personnel: This legislation would ensure that everyone from the Sexual Assault Response Coordinators to those responsible for investigating and participating in disciplinary proceedings receives specialized training so that they have a firm understanding of the nature of these crimes and their effect on survivors.

Create historic new transparency requirements: For the first time, students at every college and university in America would be surveyed about their experience with sexual violence to get an accurate picture of the problem. This new biennial survey would be standardized and confidential, with the results published online so that parents and high school students could make an informed choice when comparing universities. The Department of Education would also be required to publish the names of all schools with pending investigations, final resolutions, and voluntary resolution agreements related to Title IX with respect to sexual violence and requirements of the Clery Act.

Ensure coordination with law enforcement: This legislation would require colleges and universities to enter into memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with each local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction to report to a campus as a first responder. These MOUs would ensure that the school and law enforcement clearly delineate duties and share information so that when a crime occurs, both campus authorities and local authorities can focus on solving the crime rather than debating jurisdiction.

Establishes stiffer penalties for violations: Schools that do not comply with certain requirements under the bill may face a penalty of up to 1 percent of the institution’s operating budget. The bill would also increase penalties for Clery Act violations to up to $150,000 per violation, from the current penalty of $35,000 per violation. Financial penalties collected from institutions in violation will be distributed back to campuses through a new competitive grant program, administered by the Secretary of Education, for which colleges and universities can apply for the purpose of researching best practices for preventing and responding to sexual and interpersonal violence on college campuses and sharing such research with peer institutions and the Department of Education.

MEDIA

4/21/16: Senator Gillibrand Reads Survivor's Story, Urges Passage of CASA

7/29/15: Senate HELP Committee Testimony on Campus Accountability and Safety Act

2/26/15: Bipartisan Group of Senators Stands With Survivors To Introduce The Campus Accountability & Safety Act

2/26/15: Campus Accountability & Safety Act Press Conference - Senator Gillibrand

2/26/15: Campus Accountability & Safety Act Press Conference - Andrea and Annie