July 29, 2015

Gillibrand Testifies Before Senate Hearing On Bipartisan Campus Accountability & Safety Act

Gillibrand: Price of College Education Should Never Include Risk of Sexual Assault

WATCH Senator Gillibrand’s Testimony Here

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on the need to pass the bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act (S.590) to better address the problem of sexual assault on college campuses. The legislation flips the current incentives so that schools report these cases and provide students with the resources they need, including a trained Confidential Advisor. The measures include a biennial survey administered on every campus to get an accurate picture of the problem, and professionalizes how these cases are adjudicated to protect both survivors and accused students.

The testimony as prepared for delivery is below and video available here.

“Thank you, Chairman Collins and Ranking Member Murray, for holding this important hearing on campus sexual assault.

“A year ago, we outlined a new path forward to protect students from campus sexual assaults.

“We heard from survivors who spoke not only of the physical assault they endured but the second injustice – the second betrayal of trust – by the schools they loved.

“And we listened to law enforcement, to campus officials, and to advocates for the rights of the accused, who wanted their voices heard.

“After soliciting feedback from stakeholders across the spectrum, earlier this year, we introduced a superior version of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act.

“This bill would flip the incentives, so that for the first time, it would be in the schools’ best interest to actually solve the problem and to do it aggressively. We did it because the price of a college education should never include the risk of sexual assault.

“Every day, it’s becoming increasingly clear that too many schools are failing because they do not take sexual assault seriously enough. They do not treat these life-altering assaults for the violent crimes that they are.

“Schools all across the country will routinely withhold your diploma if you didn’t pay your fees.

“They’ll routinely kick you out of school if you cheated on a test.

“But the statistics for students who have violated other students – who have sexually assaulted them and raped them – show that only one-third are actually expelled for that crime.

“In other words two-thirds of students who were found responsible for sexual assault are still on their college campuses.

“What does it say about these schools’ priorities, if some colleges have tougher justice for a student cheating on an exam than for someone who has raped another student?

The Campus Accountability and Safety Act would transform the way colleges and universities deal with this crime.

“With this bill, instead of pretending these crimes don’t happen schools would be held accountable for reporting their sexual assault statistics – accurately and publicly.

“Every college and university in the country would give their students an anonymous, standardized survey to assess students’ experiences with campus sexual violence. The results of this biennial survey would give students, parents, and campus administrators a snapshot in time of what’s happening on campuses, and would paint a more comprehensive picture of the scope and depth of this national problem.

“With this bill, instead of having campus security and local police debate jurisdiction after a sexual assault is reported, every college and university in the country would be required to have a memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement to clearly delineate responsibilities.

“And instead of a survivor feeling like she has to go public with the details of her rape, just to capture her school’s attention, with this bill, she would get a dignified path to justice, without having to broadcast the details of the worst night of her life to the public, on the cover of the New York Times.

“I urge my colleagues here to support this critically important bill. We all have a responsibility to keep our young men and women safe on campus.

“Thank you.”