Campus Accountability and Safety Act Proposal

Campus Accountability and Safety Act Proposal

A new bill involving sexual assault is enforcing harsher penalties for colleges that fail to report the crime.
JOPLIN, MO.--- Senator McCaskill's proposed Campus Accountability and Safety Act is designed to change the way colleges and universities are reporting sexual assault crimes on campus. McCaskill released a survey of 236 colleges and universities earlier this month. Of those schools, 41% didn't conduct investigations of alleged sexual assault during the past five years.

"The trend has been to, if they fail to report it, they're trying to protect the university and not have a bad light shine on their university. Our philosophy is, if we have something that happens, we want to make sure that we address it, and make sure it doesn't happen again," said Ed. D. Ron Mitchell, Missouri Southern State University Dean of Students.

Missouri Southern State University officials received a dear colleague letter from the Office of Civil Rights outlining the appropriate steps for handling sexual assault crimes. 

"Probably 18 months ago we started looking at and revamped our policies on campus regarding sexual assault. And we have tried to closely follow the dear colleague letter," said Ken Kennedy, MSSU Police Chief.

According to MSSU employees, they are aware of the importance of reporting sexual assault crimes. MSSU administration say proper training and education regarding sexual assault is a priority.  

"For faculty and staff, there will be a small training for them of what sexual violence is and some of the definitions, and their responsibilities as leaders and adults on campus to report it," said Mitchell. 

Although MSSU is pro-active when it comes to reporting sexual assault crime. The new bill would require colleges to conduct an annual anonymous survey in which students answer questions regarding sexual assault on campus. Colleges will then be required to publish their results online for parents and prospective students to view. 

"We want the campus to be safe. Like every university, we want campus to be safe and have a safe environment where students can come and concentrate on classes and concentrate on the atmosphere, and not worry about the other things," said Mitchell. 

"It makes me feel confident in the school and the staff that we have here, that they're willing to actually deal with it and not just, you know, blow it off," said Jaclyn Shepherd, Junior at MSSU.

The Campus Accountability and Safety Act would require colleges and universities to: Designate confidential advisers who can coordinate services for the sexual assault survivor. Train campus personnel involved in sexual assault-related services so they have a better understanding of the nature of the crimes and their effect on the survivors. No longer allow athletic departments and other student groups to handle sexual violence related issues. Coordinate efforts with local law enforcement agencies. 

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