WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo Counties) urged Governor Jerry Brown to put California’s public universities in a position to once again lead the nation – this time in addressing campus sexual assault. Congresswoman Speier, along with seven other California members of the House, sent a letter yesterday to Governor Jerry Brown urging him to sign SB 967 into law. This bipartisan legislation would establish an affirmative, conscious, and voluntary form of consent at California’s public universities, and institutionalizes best practices for preventing and addressing campus sexual assault. The University of California and California State University systems support this legislation.
“This legislation takes an important first step away from current practice addressing sexual assault cases by establishing a ‘yes means yes’ standard for colleges and universities to determine consent. California’s public universities have always led the country, and with Governor Brown’s signature they will lead in protecting students,” said Congresswoman Speier. “No student should have to fear sexual violence at their college or university. Universities have failed to protect students, and we need to change course before more students become survivors. Twenty percent of young women and six percent of young men will be victims of attempted or actual sexual assault while attending college. When these survivors do come forward, they shouldn’t have to prove their assault wasn’t consensual.”
In July, Congresswoman Speier introduced H.R. 5269, the bipartisan Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) on Campus Sexual Violence Act. The legislation requires the Department of Education to issue penalties for noncompliance with civil rights requirements including Title IX, colleges to conduct annual climate surveys, public disclosure of all resolution agreements between higher education institutions and the Department of Education, and increases funding for Title IX and Clery investigation.
Congresswoman Speier also led a bipartisan letter in January 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 Congresswoman’s policy recommendations.
The Department of Education is currently investigating 78 colleges and universities, including University of California, Berkeley, for how they handle their sexual assault cases. Congresswoman Speier and Lee met with Chancellor Dirks and outlined areas for additional improvements to address campus sexual assault. A congressional survey of 350 schools found that 41% of the institutions had not conducted a single sexual assault investigation in five years, and 30% of campus law enforcement officials received no training on how to respond to reports of sexual violence.
Text of Letter:
September 15, 2014
The Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
State of California
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Governor Brown:
We are writing to urge you to sign into law SB 967. This bipartisan landmark legislation creates an affirmative, conscious, and voluntary form of consent and institutionalizes best practices for preventing and addressing campus sexual assault. This survivor-centered approach to sexual assault cases enhances accountability by engaging community resources beyond campus, requiring universities to enter into memoranda of understandings to refer students for support and services. With your signature California can lead the nation on best practices for handling and ending the epidemic of sexual assault on campus.
No student should have to fear sexual violence at their college or university. Tragically, current campus practices and culture have failed to combat sexual assault on college campuses. The statistics are alarming: 20 percent of young women and 6 percent of young men will be victims of attempted or actual sexual assault. The responses of colleges and universities to this epidemic, however, have been woefully insufficient. A congressional survey of 350 schools found that 41% of the institutions had not conducted a single sexual assault investigation in five years, and 30% of campus law enforcement officials received no training on how to respond to reports of sexual violence. The problem is so widespread that the Department of Education is investigating 76 colleges and universities for how they handle their sexual assault cases.
SB 967 was thoughtfully developed in partnership with students, universities, and advocacy organizations to shift the culture on college campuses. It is also supported by University of California and the California State University system. Our public universities have consistently led our nation in thought – this legislation will also make our universities leaders in protecting students.
We hope you will sign this legislation into law to establish a model for sexual assault prevention around the country.
Jackie Speier Grace Napolitano
Julia Brownley Henry Waxman
Alan Lowenthal Judy Chu
Mike Honda Tony Cárdenas