NAICU Washington Update

Bipartisan “Campus Accountability And Safety Act” Introduced In The Senate

August 05, 2014

Wide-ranging legislation with massive implications for the way every college addresses sexual violence on its campus was introduced on July 30 by a bipartisan group of 10 Senators led by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). The “Campus Accountability and Safety Act” proposes changes in the Higher Education Act, Title IX, and the Violence Against Women Act aimed at requiring colleges to act more aggressively in identifying, preventing, and addressing sexual misconduct on their campuses. There is a growing list of cosponsors.

The proposal places particular emphasis on assuring that individuals who are assaulted receive immediate and sustained support from trained campus personnel. In addition, institutions would be required to conduct campus climate surveys, post additional information on their websites, ensure consistency in their disciplinary proceedings, and develop agreements with local law enforcement authorities. The Department of Education would be required to publish information about pending Title IX investigations and would be authorized to impose stiff financial penalties for Title IX or Clery Act violations. Department officials would also be required to develop subregulatory guidance aimed at clarifying the interaction between Title IX and Clery requirements and resolving any inconsistencies between the two.

This multi-faceted proposal emerged from a series of roundtable discussions and a campus survey sponsored by Senator McCaskill and her colleagues.

Next steps for the measure are uncertain at this point. Senator McCaskill has expressed her hope that the measure can be taken up quickly after the Senate returns from its month-long August recess. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, where committee leadership has indicated that sexual assault issues will be considered in connection with reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Final action on the HEA will not occur until after a new Congress convenes next year.

MORE News from NAICU