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Noem Helps Combat Sexual Assault at Colleges and Universities

Washington D.C. (KELO AM) - Congresswoman Kristi Noem, as part of a bipartisan coalition of 18 House members, introduced the House version of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act. The legislation mirrors a bill introduced in the Senate yesterday, which takes aim at sexual assaults on college and university campuses by protecting and empowering students, strengthening accountability and transparency for institutions and establishing stiff penalties for non-compliance with the legislation’s new standards for training, data and best practices.

The bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act will make it in the schools’ immediate best interest to take proactive steps to protect their students and rid their campuses of sexual predators.

“My oldest daughter will begin her Junior year of college in a little over a month and I, like any other parent, want to make sure I do everything I can to ensure she’s safe,” saidCongresswoman Kristi Noem. “This legislation empowers our students, strengthens accountability measures, and takes steps toward ending this horrible crime. Our students just shouldn’t have to worry about becoming a victim at school.”

The House effort is being championed by a bipartisan coalition led by Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Ted Poe (R-TX), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Susan Brooks (R-IN), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Renee Ellmers (R-NC), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tom Reed (R-NY), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Kristi Noem (R-SD), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), David Joyce (OH-14), Annie Kuster (D-NH), and Gary Peters (D-MI).

Provisions of the bipartisan legislation include:

  • New Campus Resources and Support Services for Student Survivors: Under this legislation, colleges and universities will be required to designate Confidential Advisors who will serve as a confidential resource for victims of assaults committed against a student. The role of Confidential Advisors will be to coordinate support services and accommodations for survivors, to provide information about options for reporting, and to provide guidance or assistance, at the direction of the survivor, in reporting the crime to campus authorities and/or local law enforcement. To encourage individuals to come forward with reports about sexual violence, schools will no longer be allowed to sanction a student who reveals a violation in good faith, such as underage drinking, in the process of reporting a sexual violence claim.
  • Minimum Training Standards for On-Campus Personnel: Currently, a chronic lack of training of on-campus personnel hampers sexual assault investigations and disciplinary processes, often resulting in negative outcomes for survivors. This legislation ensures that everyone from the Confidential Advisors, to those responsible for investigating and participating in disciplinary proceedings, will now receive specialized training to ensure they have a firm understanding of the nature of these crimes and their effect on survivors.
  • New Historic Transparency Requirements: For the first time, students at every university in America will be surveyed about their experience with sexual violence to get an accurate picture of this problem.  This new annual survey will be standardized and anonymous, with the results published online so that parents and high school students can make an informed choice when comparing universities. The Department of Education will also be required to publish the names of all schools with pending investigations, final resolutions, and voluntary resolution agreements related to Title IX.
  • Campus Accountability and Coordination with Law Enforcement: All schools will now be required to use a uniform process for campus disciplinary proceedings and may no longer allow athletic departments or other subgroups to handle complaints of sexual violence for members of that subgroup alone. This legislation will require colleges and universities to enter into memoranda of understanding with all applicable local law enforcement agencies to clearly delineate responsibilities and share information so that when an assault occurs, both campus authorities and local authorities can focus on solving the crime rather than debating jurisdiction. 
  • Enforceable Title IX Penalties and Stiffer Penalties for Clery Act Violations: Schools that don’t comply with certain requirements under the bill may face a penalty of up to 1% of the institution’s operating budget. Previously, the only allowable penalty was the loss of all financial aid which is not practical and has never been done. The bill increases penalties for Clery Act violations to up to $150,000 per violation from the current penalty of $35,000.

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