WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo counties) and Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-Pennsylvania), and 25 of their colleagues, introduced the bipartisan Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) Campus Sexual Violence Act, which would strengthen prevention and enforcement efforts to combat campus sexual violence.
“We have to stop campus sexual assault in its tracks,” said Speier. “For too long, higher education institutions have been ‘punishing’ perpetrators by requiring them to write contrite essays and counseling young women to wear longer skirts—no wonder we haven’t solved the problem. We need real enforcement that will make colleges live up to their obligations under federal law.”
“No student should have to fear sexual assault on campus and no parent should fear their child is in danger when they send them to college," said Congressman Meehan. "As a prosecutor, I worked closely with the victims of sexual assault on campus and I saw firsthand the need to improve protections for survivors. This legislation takes sensible steps forward to strengthen protections for victims and it will help them access the resources they need in the wake of attack.”
Under federal law, students are entitled to a safe educational environment free of sexual harassment. But statistics show that 20 percent of young women and 6 percent of young men will be victims of attempted or actual sexual assault on campus, and the National Institute of Justice estimated that 63 percent of universities shirk their legal responsibilities to respond to these violent crimes.
The HALT Act would strengthen prevention efforts and the enforcement of laws to combat campus sexual violence by (1) requiring the Department of Education to issue penalties for noncompliance with civil rights requirements under its authority, including Title IX; (2) increasing penalties for violating the Clery Act from $35,000 to $100,000; (3) creating a private right of action for students harmed by institutions that fail to meet campus safety requirements; (4) instituting biennial climate surveys; (5) requiring greater transparency and public disclosure of a list of institutions under investigation, the sanctions (if any) or findings issued pursuant to such investigations, and copies of all program reviews and resolution agreements entered into between higher education institutions and the Education and Justice Departments under Title IX and the Clery Act; (6) increasing funding for Title IX and Clery investigators by $5 million; (7) expanding institutional requirements to notify and publicly post students’ legal rights and institutions’ obligations under Title IX; and (8) creating an interagency task force to increase coordination between agencies and enhance investigations.
The HALT Campus Sexual Violence Act is the legislative approach to combatting campus sexual violence that garners the most support from advocacy groups, including the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), American Association of University Women (AAUW), California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA), California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV), National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), Know Your IX, and End Rape on Campus.