Congresswoman Speier Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Protect College Students from Sexual Assault

For Immediate Release

July 30, 2014

 

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WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) issued the following statement today after introducing the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) on Campus Sexual Assault Act, bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-PA).

“The fact that one in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college should frighten all of us. Students and parents deserve to know which institutions are safe and that failure to protect victims results in tangible consequences. Many colleges have swept these crimes under the rug to avoid bad publicity, loss of enrollment and federal funding. They have put protecting their reputations above protecting their student bodies. I have met with rape survivors who shared their traumatic experiences of being ostracized as their perpetrators were allowed to continue their studies and prey on other students,” Congresswoman Speier said. “With a daughter in college myself, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t worry about her health and well-being. The thought that a sexual predator may be roaming the campus is unnerving, especially with the knowledge that a typical college rapist will assault six victims.

“It’s going to take money, increased transparency, enforcement and a dramatic change in the culture to end the epidemic of campus sexual assault. Students need to have the confidence that they can seek a higher education in a safe environment. They should be worried about registering for classes and not registering complaints.” Congresswoman Speier said.

Congressman Meehan said: “No student should have to study and experience college with the fear of sexual violence. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and climate surveys, as well as enhanced transparency in incident reporting statistics, will help us better understand and address the extent of sexual assault on campus. This bill is an important part of the effort to truly tackle the college sexual assault crisis.”

 

The HALT Campus Sexual Violence Act strengthens prevention and enforcement by requiring:
• The Department of Education to issue penalties for noncompliance with civil rights requirements under its authority, including Title IX;
• The availability of a private right of action for students harmed by institutions that fail to meet campus safety requirements;
• Increasing penalties for Clery Act violations;
• Annual climate surveys;
• Public disclosure of all resolutions agreements between higher education institutions and the Department of Education and compliance reviews;
• Increased funding for Title IX and Clery investigators;
• Expansion of institutional requirements for notifying and publicly posting students’ legal rights and institutions’ obligations under Title IX;
• An interagency task force to increase coordination between agencies and enhance investigations.

In January, Congresswoman Speier led a bipartisan letter signed by 39 members that called for more transparency about investigations and enforcement actions against institutions found deficient in their protections against sexual violence, and asked for the Department of Education to develop policy guidance to support colleges to create prevention and response efforts that include same-sex sexual violence. Many of the White House Task Force’s actions and recommendations, including the creation of the consolidated website NotAlone.gov, are based upon the Members’ policy recommendations.

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Congresswoman Jackie Speier is proud to represent California’s 14th Congressional District, which includes parts of San Francisco and San Mateo counties. She is a senior member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). In her role on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Congresswoman is a ranking member on the Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care, and Entitlements and serves on the Subcommittee on National Security. She serves on the Readiness Subcommittee and the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee on HASC and is a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. Congresswoman Speier was appointed to serve as a Senior Whip for the Democratic caucus in the 113th Congress.