Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that Syracuse University has endorsed her bipartisan Campus Accountability & Safety Act, becoming the first large private university to add its name in support of the bill. The Campus Accountability & Safety Act combats sexual assault on college campuses by transforming the way that colleges and universities deal with these crimes. This legislation would professionalize the response to and reporting of sexual assaults that occur on campuses to better protect and empower survivors of campus sexual violence, while also protecting the rights of accused students.
“Sexual assault on college campuses is too often swept under the rug,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act will help address this pervasive problem and make college campuses across the country safer and more accountable. I am grateful that Syracuse University has added their name in support of this critical legislation, and I will continue fighting to get this comprehensive, bipartisan bill passed to ensure campus sexual assault cases are handled with the professionalism and fairness students deserve.”
“Syracuse University has long been a national leader in combating sexual violence,” said Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud. “I am fortunate to work with a dedicated team of student, faculty, and staff leaders who strive to make Syracuse a safe campus, and be ahead of the curve in working to prevent sexual assault. As Chancellor of one of the largest private universities in New York State, I know more work on this critical issue is needed. That is why I support Senator Gillibrand’s Campus Accountability and Safety Act.”
Current federal law creates incentives for colleges and universities to under-report sexual assaults. The Campus Accountability & Safety Act would flip the incentives to protect students and professionalize the response to and reporting of sexual assault. The legislation incorporates input from survivors, students, colleges, universities, law enforcement, and advocates to do the following:
1. Establish new campus resources and support services for student survivors,
2. Ensure that college and university staff meet minimum training standards to address sexual assault cases,
3. Create historic transparency requirements to provide students, parents, and officials with an accurate picture of the problem and how campuses are addressing it,
4. Require a uniform student disciplinary process across campuses, and coordination with law enforcement, and
5. Incentivize colleges and universities to address the problem by establishing enforceable Title IX penalties and stiffer penalties for Clery Act violations.
In March 2015, Senator Gillibrand met with students and officials from Syracuse University, as well as survivors, advocates, and law enforcement officials to discuss bolstering efforts to combat sexual violence on college campuses. Senator Gillibrand also joined Vice President Joe Biden at Syracuse University in November 2015 to raise awareness about campus sexual assault.
The Campus Accountability & Safety Act is cosponsored by a bipartisan coalition of 34 Senators. The SUNY system, Southern Oregon University, and Daemen College have endorsed the legislation.