WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Claire McCaskill today praised the more than $30 million in new resources included in the President’s budget, to help fund an additional 200 full-time staff at the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which investigates and enforces sexual assault laws at colleges and universities.
“There’s a lot of work Congress must do to address and prevent campus sexual assault, and that includes enforcing the laws we already have on the books – which is exactly what this funding would help do,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This budget request would finally provide the resources needed to properly investigate sexual assault complaints and put more cops on the beat to raise accountability on college and university campuses for accurately reporting statistics to the federal government.”
“As we work to pass our bipartisan legislation, these additional resources are a terrific step in ensuring that as more survivors come out of the shadows to report these crimes, schools and law enforcement have the tools they need to help empower students and bring perpetrators to justice,” said McCaskill, a former courtroom prosecutor of sex crimes.
The Senators in November wrote to President Obama requesting these additional resources to help combat campus sexual assault be included in his FY2016 budget request. Each year, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights handles more than 10,000 complaints against schools over violations of Title IX, but has just half the staff it did in 1980, when it received a third of the amount of complaints as today.
The Senators also recently joined ten of their colleagues in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, & Education, calling for new federal funding to investigate and enforce sexual assault laws at colleges and universities.
Last year, Gillibrand, McCaskill and a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, to take aim at sexual assaults on college and university campuses by protecting and empowering students, and strengthening accountability and transparency for institutions—including establishing stiff penalties for non-compliance with the legislation’s new standards for training, data and best practices.