Reps Speier, Poe, Kuster & Fitzpatrick Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Combat Campus Sexual Violence
Washington, D.C. – Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Annie Kuster (D-NH), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) today introduced H.R. 6464, the bipartisan Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) Campus Sexual Violence Act to strengthen prevention and enforcement efforts to combat campus sexual violence.
“When parents drop off their children for their first year of college, we expect our institutions of higher learning to keep them safe. But that’s not the reality for 20 percent of young women, and six percent of the young men who are destined to become victims of sexual assault on campus,” Rep. Speier said. “To make matters worse, survivors are constantly told that they are responsible for their assault – from being penalized for so-called ‘code of ethics’ violations, like drinking at parties or going into other students’ dorm rooms, to being blamed for not fighting back. This kind of antiquated victim-blaming and -shaming is unacceptable. The HALT Act will ensure that our colleges and universities do everything they can to hold perpetrators accountable, rather than revictimize survivors.”
“Graduating high school and going to college is an important rite of passage for most American teenagers. College offers the promise of more independence, new friends and new experiences. Universities often paint themselves in a glowing light – a safe place in which parents can safely entrust the well-being of their starry-eyed children. But the shocking reality is that 20 percent of young women and six percent of young men will be victims of sexual assault while attending college,” Rep. Poe said. “No student should fear for their safety while on a college campus. The Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) on Campus Sexual Violence Act strengthens reporting requirements for university sexual assault cases and increases penalties for universities who fail to comply with civil rights requirements under Title IX. The culture of campus assault must be fundamentally changed. It’s time to shed light on this growing problem in America and hold universities accountable for the safety of our children.”
“Our institutions of higher education must be held accountable for lax policies against sexual violence occurring on their campuses. Young women and men attending college deserve the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive in a safe environment, free from fear,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “The HALT Act ensures that universities take every possible step to eradicate sexual violence on college campuses. With nearly one-in-five young women, and 6-percent of young men likely to experience some type of sexual violence on campus, Congress must act to keep our youth safe.”
“No student should ever fear for their safety on the campus they call home,” Rep. Kuster said. “We continue to hear extremely alarming stories about the pervasiveness of sexual violence on campuses across the country, so it is critical that Congress take steps to address and end this outrageous epidemic. As co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, I am proud to bring people together from both sides of the aisle to work toward solutions that will make our schools and communities safer. By strengthening prevention and enforcement efforts on college campuses, as well as improving coordination and public awareness, the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) on Campus Sexual Violence Act is a step in the right direction. I am pleased to join with my colleagues to help introduce this important legislation.”
Under federal law, students are entitled to an educational environment free of sexual harassment and violence. However, the National Institute of Justice estimated that 63 percent of universities shirk their legal responsibilities when responding to these violent crimes. The HALT Act would strengthen prevention efforts and the enforcement of laws to combat campus sexual violence by:
- Allowing the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to issue financial penalties for noncompliance with civil rights requirements under Title IX;
- Increasing penalties for violating the Clery Act from $35,000 to $100,000;
- Creating a private right of action for students harmed by institutions that fail to meet campus safety requirements;
- Instituting biennial climate surveys;
- Requiring public disclosure of a list of colleges and universities under investigation for violations of Title IX and the Clery Act, the sanctions (if any) or findings issued pursuant to such investigations, and copies of all program reviews and resolution agreements entered into between a university, ED, and the Department of Justice;
- Increasing funding for Title IX and Clery investigators by $5 million;
- Expanding requirements for notifying and publicly posting students’ legal rights and universities’ obligations under Title IX;
- And creating an interagency task force to increase coordination between agencies and enhance investigations.
The HALT Act is supported by the following organizations: National Women’s Law Center, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Know Your IX, End Rape on Campus, Girls, Inc., Feminist Majority Foundation, Futures Without Violence, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), YWCA USA, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA), and the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV).
A copy of the bill text can be found here.